Here Jesus seems to take a break. No teaching, no healing, just observing.
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.

He sees many rich people give large sums. He isn’t impressed. Funny how Jesus never seems impressed by the same things that wow most people!

What Jesus finds extraordinary that day was the contribution of one poor widow - two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

Jesus isn’t exaggerating when He says she put more into the treasury than all the others. What a revelation to students of Jesus! It’s not how much we give but how much we have left over after we give that gets God’s attention.

It’s not the quantity but the quality of our gift. And here the Teacher measures quality by the degree of sacrifice involved.

That’s why she is not embarrassed to hear her two little coins rattle around in the offering plate. It’s all she has to give! What an encouragement this widow is to all of us who often feel we have very little to offer.

Actually, we must strain to understand this unusual woman. It’s all she has to live on! What is she thinking? How great is her faith?

Very impressive! She got Jesus’ attention. And ours!

Because of her example, now students know how to please the Teacher also.



The Highest Good! That’s the question a teacher of the law posed to the Teacher – Of all the commandments, which is the most important?

Jesus doesn’t hesitate to answer. Surprisingly, He doesn’t mention one of the Ten Commandments. Instead…

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

The man is so impressed by this answer – “Well said, Teacher,” the man replied…”To love him with all your heart…and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

It was now Jesus’ turn to be impressed by this man - When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

Though steeped in a religion pre-occupied with traditions and external rituals, this man gets it. He’s not far from the kingdom of God, because love is what the kingdom of God is all about.

The Father’s love! Jesus’ love! The love of the Holy Spirit!

The Teacher wants His students to know the ultimate test of our relationship with God. And it isn’t how religious we appear. It is the degree of love in our hearts for God and our neighbors?

The Teacher says the most important question is do we love God!

True religion fosters the love of God in our hearts. Mere religious busywork and focus on external performance leaves the heart unaffected or worse. Without love, very religious people can be mean-spirited, even crucify the Lord!

Love! This is still the Teacher’s answer today. And only this Teacher can lead His students into greater possession of it.



Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words.

Sometimes you can learn a lot about a person by what their enemies say about them.

Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.

These men admit Jesus is a good man. But they don’t like Him because they don’t like anyone who disagrees with them. They would even kill Him, but they’re afraid of the people.

Still, their words reveal the Teacher’s reputation with the people. Integrity, no respecter of persons, a Teacher of the truth!

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. "Why are you trying to trap me?" He asked.

This is the sort of thing that goes on when religion is reduced to arguing about what one believes instead of becoming and doing.

Anyway, Jesus has endured this kind of cat and mouse game for nearly three years now. Check that! Nearly 2,000 years now…

Through the years, millions of similar questions posed in various forums of inquisition and entrapment! This day it was a tax question. It doesn’t matter. It’s the reason it keeps happening that hurts!

Because whenever something like this occurs one thing is always absent. The most important thing! Much more important than the answers to the questions!

It’s what the Teacher has in His heart and inquisitors usually don’t.

The Love of God!



The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

Here Jesus applies a quote from Psalm 118 to Himself. The religious leaders have already rejected Him! Soon they will persuade the people to do the same.

According to tradition, during the building of Solomon’s temple, a large perfectly cut stone was sent up from the quarry. However, the builders could find no place to use it.

It was a huge stone and in the way, so they rolled it off the temple mount down into the Kidron Valley.

Later, when it was time to hoist a cornerstone into place, the builders sent word to the quarry for it. You guessed it! The masons informed them it had already been delivered!

Then someone remembered the stone they had rolled over the cliff. With some difficulty it was retrieved and fit perfectly into place. The rejected stone became the cornerstone!

This is Jesus!

In fact, He knows in a few days God’s chosen people will find no use for Him. Demand His death. And when He is driven out of the city His rejection will be complete.

But He also knows this will not be the end. He will be resurrected, accepted, and become the perfect foundation for God’s new temple, the church!

We see it now. It all fits! He is the cornerstone upon whom we build our lives!

I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. (Psalm 118:21)



Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Here the students of Jesus are amazed – Teacher, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!

Jesus isn’t surprised at all. Instead he shares with them the secret of his power. It is His faith.

He tells them – Have faith in God.

What would it be like to live life with that kind of faith? A faith that is more than a belief that God is powerful enough to work in our lives! But a faith that trusts God will work, is working!

Have we experienced this difference?

According to our Teacher, we can!

The Teacher wants His students to understand this. He tells them to believe in God and in the power of their prayers to Him.

Remarkably, He tells them to believe to the extent that what they ask for they have already received!

Over and over, in different settings and in various ways the Teacher has taught the same thing. He tells His students that if they really believe and ask according to the will of God, it will be done.

It will be yours, He says. This isn’t a maybe! Maybe isn’t faith!

Can we really become more like Jesus? We may try. We may even pray. But do we believe we have received it? Are becoming more like our Teacher?



My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

Jesus clears the temple. He drove out those buying and selling - overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

Quite a disruption at church that day. Though not as chaotic as the flea-market atmosphere continually created by money changers and animals.

In Jerusalem, the temple was open for prayer every day at any time. Traditionally, those living nearby came to pray at least three times each day.

Today, Christian churches in many countries are still open for prayer. It is impressive to see people quietly trickle in and out throughout the day. Each motivated by unique spiritual impulses to seek a quiet place to intone God's blessing!

In America, most churches are closed except for appointed worship times. Few remain open for daily prayer.

Perhaps this reflects an understanding that we should now pray anywhere at any time. We are the temple of God. He dwells within our hearts.

True, but we might need to do what Jesus did that day in the temple. Interrupt and upset our commercial preoccupations! Disturb what we’re doing to make room for prayer.
Students of Jesus learn from this example of their Teacher to purposefully and forcefully push back! Creating an atmosphere more agreeable to prayer!

Got prayer time?



Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey…

Exactly as this prophecy from Zechariah predicted, Jesus is riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.

No limo! No golden chariot and white horses!

And why not? Jesus is ushering in a Kingdom that will be very different from what those in the crowd are expecting.

Not what His best students hope for either. Haven’t James and John recently asked for thrones on His right and left?

Jesus told them they didn’t know what they’re asking! They are thinking thrones of gold. Jesus is thinking wooden!

When Jesus goes to the cross, it is two unknown thieves who take the positions on the right and on the left!

Jesus’ reality is a cross. But as Jesus rides into Jerusalem that day all are hoping for earthly glory.

However, their mistaken ideas don’t detract from His triumphal entry. It is never our perceptions, but what Jesus thinks and does that is important.

Today Jesus’ expectant students long for the return of their King. His final triumphal entry! Ushering in glorious changes!

In reality, hasn’t this has already started. Jesus has come. He reigns in our hearts.

Because Jesus is here, we are already a new creation. Being changed day by day to be more like Him!

We look forward to the completion of His work in us. And for now we sing as they did that day - Hosanna in the highest!



Many of the people Jesus heals are anonymous. But here we know the name of the blind man from Jericho.

There was nothing wrong with his voice though. He begins to cry out when Jesus passes nearby. And he won’t stop, even when everyone tells him to be quiet.

Bartimaeus may have been blind but that didn’t prevent him from seeing what some did not. Through eyes of faith he saw the compassion and power of Jesus.

The Teacher says so –
Go your way, your faith has made you whole.

Very often Jesus gave sight to the blind. It was an act of love, but it was also a sign.

Jesus comes to give sight. Not just to Bartimaeus and others like him. But to those who are spiritually blind.

This is the work of the Teacher. He gives the light of God to those in darkness!

Bartimaeus has faith Jesus can restore his sight. And more! This man believes this powerful Teacher will lead him to God.

Look what he does. Where he goes as soon as he receives the gift of sight!

He follows Jesus.

There is more he wants to see.

Students of the Teacher also see what blind Bartimaeus saw. We too want to follow Jesus and see God more clearly every day.



There’s something wrong with this picture! Jesus is on His way to submit to the shame of the cross and His students are jockeying for prominence.

The Teacher doesn’t seem discouraged that after nearly three years His students still don’t understand. We all must be personally encouraged by this.

Instead, He stops and patiently provides yet another lesson.

Jesus called them together and said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

If the Teacher came to earth to serve and give His life for others, what does this say about the key to greatness for His students?

The world is still using battering rams, trying to get into the Halls of Importance! But true greatness does not lie behind a door that can be forcibly breached.

You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant….

Where’s the key to greatness? It’s hidden under the mat near the door, of course! Only have to kneel down to get it.

Humble service for the benefit of others! This alone opens the door leading to the kind of greatness the Teacher has and desires for His students.

Like Teacher, like student…there's the key to greatness.



Peter said to him, "We have left everything to follow you!"

Peter is not complaining. But he has just observed a rich man decide to hang onto his wealth and go back home rather than sell out and follow Jesus.

Now Peter reminds Jesus that he and the others have left everything behind to become His students.

He’s not griping, but there is definitely an unspoken question in Peter’s statement. They sacrificed their homes, their families, their hopes for financial gain to follow Jesus. So what’s in it for them?

It’s interesting the Teacher doesn’t condemn the self-interest behind the question hanging in the air. Isn’t it logical to assess the outcomes of any decision? That’s how we’re wired.

"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields… and in the age to come, eternal

Is the Teacher exaggerating a bit here? We don’t have a problem with the eternal life promise, but a hundred homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children and fields in this lifetime?

No, the Teacher is right again. One day soon these students will be sent out into the world to preach the gospel. Then they will experience the truthfulness of these words.

Every new student they make will open their home to them. The fruit of a hundred fields will sustain them. Their lives will be filled with spiritual relatives who will love them as dearly as family!

This is still the way it is for students of Jesus today who sacrifice for His sake. And why we’re not complaining either. Like the Teacher said,

But many who are first will be last, and the last first.



Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.

Here a rich man comes to Jesus for advice. He seems interested in doing more than keeping the basic commands of God. He wants to go farther and deeper in his spiritual life.

Jesus’ response is stunning. Sell everything and give to the poor!


The Teacher’s reason is equally dramatic. Doing so will increase the net worth of his heavenly account!

For most of us this seems a little far out. This young man didn’t like it either - At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Wonder what he was worth? According to the Teacher, in heavenly terms maybe this rich man's net worth wasn’t all that much!

So let’s take a moment to calculate our net worth. Add up the assets in the bank account, stocks and bonds, real estate equity and 401k then subtract our debts.

Whoa. Wait a minute. This isn’t our true net worth. This money isn’t ours because ultimately we can’t keep it. We are only temporary trustees of these things.

The Teacher is right again. Our real net worth – what is ours and can never be taken or abandoned at death – is what we give to the poor.

Let’s recalculate. What has God credited to our heavenly account?

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "



Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" Jesus replied. "God made them male and female, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh...Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

Is the Teacher’s marriage standard too tough? Let’s investigate…

Back in 1900, less than two percent of marriages in the U.S. ended in divorce. By 2,000 it was near 50 percent. The U.S. has the highest divorce rate - two times more than the next highest country.

More than 1 million children each year experience divorce. Less than 60 percent of American children live with both of their biological parents.

One third of these households are below the poverty level. Because less than half the children in single-parent households receive any financial support from the absent parent. This is tough!

There are always exceptions, but as a general rule termination of the family unit isn’t good for children. Usually there is emotional trauma for the little ones. This is tougher still!

It looks like abandoning the Teacher’s standards will not brought greater happiness for children. And the higher divorce rates for second and third marriages indicate probably not for the adults either.

During His time on earth, Jesus always showed great compassion when He met people who were divorced. He has the same love and care for those who experience it today. Jesus didn't come to condemn, but to enlighten, to help and to heal.

It is actually Jesus' compassion that prompts His tough teaching about divorce. Tough yes, but as we now know, not as rough as the consequences when we don’t pay attention to His counsel!

Thankfully, Jesus still provides forgiveness and healing. And He also offers assistance to husbands and wives who hope to save their marriages. But all of this only comes in a personal relationship with the Teacher!



Ok, here's where the numbers enrolled in the University of Jesus could drop off! Because it isn’t fashionable to talk about hell. I guess the Teacher should be more concerned with political correctness!

He isn’t! He more concerned with reality!

Here the Teacher warns not once, but three times about going to hell.

According to Jesus, hell is a real possibility for some!

We may not like it, but it makes sense. If Jesus came to save us, there must be some danger from which we must be saved.

There is a hell to avoid and a heaven to gain!

This is what makes the good news so good! Jesus dies for our sins so we live eternally with Him instead.

He saves us from this penalty of sin by His death. Then as our Teacher, He helps us to substantially overcome sin in our lives even now! We can actually become more like Him!

And more good news from the Teacher - rewards await those who serve His cause.

I tell you the truth; anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.



Here the students are embarrassed by their Teacher’s question – What were you arguing about on the road?

They are too ashamed to answer - They kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

That’s just great, isn’t it?

Funny even! For in the presence of the greatest Person who ever lived, His students are lining up to vie for a very distant second place!

Ok, we’ll go along. Who is the greatest among them?

The Teacher tells them - If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.

Then to explain, He calls a child to stand among them.

Taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

I’m sure Jesus’ students never thought like this before. Never knew God looked at greatness this way! Doing something for the helpless!

This is not what they learned in the world. Titles, position, power, ability, influence, prestige, degrees!

Not so, says the Teacher. Not in God’s world.

The very last one is first. The one who helps those who can never serve to advance their own interests! A child for instance!

The world says that’s a ridiculous waste of time.

The Teacher says - that’s just great!



I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!

An interesting prayer, don’t you think?

It comes from the father of a child who needs a healing touch. Perhaps he has doubt now because Jesus’ disciples tried unsuccessfully to help him.

At any rate, the dialogue between this anxious father and Jesus is revealing. First, he asks Jesus for help – But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.

Jesus’ response is almost like - Are you kidding?

“If you can?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

It is then the father expresses his faith but asks for help to overcome his reservations.

Isn’t this the way it is with all of us. Our faith is very often mixed with a certain amount of doubt. We believe and yet we don’t! Not really.

Factually we know God can do anything. Actually we wonder if He will! We believe, but…

And because of these doubts much of what is possible for our lives is only untapped potential.

For there is a huge difference between believing God is able to do something in our lives and that He will do it. That difference is a belief that is so unmixed with doubt it may be properly called trust!

Here the Teacher reminds us - Everything is possible for him who believes!

How many new and wonderful blessings wait for us beyond the resolution of all doubt! Lord, help our unbelief!



Remember what happened in grade school when the teacher stepped out of the room for a moment?

Even though she left instructions to continue working on the lesson, usually something quite different took place!

Without the Teacher things go downhill very fast! Students quickly forget the instructions. Lose focus, begin to play around and sometimes even fight.

Here we see what happened when Jesus left some of His disciples alone to go up on the mountain.

When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them.

This is still what religion comes to without the Teacher. Christians begin to focus on arguments about truth rather than practical lessons about how to live it.

It’s only possible to follow Jesus successfully when we learn to practice the continual presence of the Teacher. It is only He who keeps us focused on our lesson at hand - becoming more like Him!

There is another unfortunate result of the Teacher’s absence. His students lose power. A man in crowd reports – I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.

Religion without power is always the result when the Teacher is not present. We can only do what He asks and become what He desires when we remain conscious of His presence.

Weak, ineffective, argumentative! That’s religion – and life - without the Teacher!



Sometimes our circumstances seem overwhelming. We simply don’t know what to do. We wish for someone qualified to advise us.

Actually, this has already happened for every one of us and for every situation! And the one giving the advice is God Himself! How about that!

What’s the Heavenly Advice?

Listen to Jesus!

Here Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on a mountain. Miraculously, Moses and Elijah meet with them. But it is Jesus who becomes radiantly white.

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

This is what the University of Jesus is all about. Students learn to listen to the voice of the Teacher. They find out He has the best information about everything they face in life.

Enroll in this University.

Become a student of Jesus.

Listen to Him!

This is Heavenly Advice!



Now for the first time, the Teacher stuns His students with a deeper disclosure of the plan for His own life.

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

His students are shaken - Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

But there was one more shocking revelation to come! This same degree of commitment and sacrifice will now be required to continue as one of His students.

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.

They didn’t sign up for this! They simply wanted to be students of the best Rabbi in the world. A superior education would naturally lead to a better life, respect, places of honor in society!

And now this bombshell!!! Will they re-enlist?

One of them definitely will not! Soon he will seek and find an opportunity to go over to the enemy!

Now we see how it is with all of us. Don’t we first sign up with Jesus primarily as our Savior? We are quite content with the forgiveness He offers.

Then one day the Teacher reveals His deeper plan to change our lives. To become much more like Him than we originally planned. And it involves a cross – the cross of self-denial.

We re-enlist and become serious students of Jesus!



This is strange! Usually Jesus heals completely with just a command or a touch. Here it takes two attempts for Jesus to heal a blind man!

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. When he had…put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"

He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around."

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

The first attempt doesn’t restore the man’s sight perfectly. The second one does. What’s going on here?

Surely, Jesus could have healed him immediately. Why doesn’t He?

He's giving a sign. Setting up the two-step He's about to do with His students. After this healing, Jesus is going to call for a clearer vision and deeper commitment from the Twelve.

Remember, Jesus first called them to leave their jobs to become His students. And they do this simply because they understand He can help them live a better life, come closer to God.

But at first they don't see clearly what the Teacher ultimately planned for them. This more complete vision will only be theirs when He shares with them His intention to die on the cross and be resurrected.

Now in this second step, their Teacher will call upon them to take up their cross and follow Him in a more radical form of self-denial and sacrifice for His cause.

It’s the same today, this two-step. At first we only see Him as a Savior from sin and a hope for heaven. Only later do we see with clarity what our Teacher desires for us. That we become like Him, take up our cross and follow Him.



Jesus asked them: "Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?

Here we see the incredible patience of the Teacher in the face of slow students! This is becoming a familiar refrain. Same song, second verse!

We are tempted to be critical of them. We puzzle over their lack of comprehension. Aren’t they eyewitnesses of His power? Don’t they sit in His classroom every day?

Sorry to report. We have the same tendency.

So, what’s causes this closed-mind, growth-stunting phenomenon?

We might deny it, but the problem is at some level we think we basically already know all we need to know. Think about it for a moment…

Our tendency is to reject new ideas. Especially when, at first glance, they seem to contradict our current understandings! This is how what we know keeps getting in the way of what we need to know.

But good students don’t immediately reject a new concept because it doesn’t seem to fit neatly into their current views at first. They keep an open mind. They inquire how it might be possible to accommodate a new idea.

To do this, it’s helpful to start by doing the opposite of our natural inclination. Assume the new concept may be true! Then ask how that would modify the truth we already hold that seems to now contradict it.

Often we discover our former view of truth is not violated at all, but rather refined by the new idea! This is the nature of Truth and this is how we gradually come to greater truths!

But surely not with closed minds! And as we see here, not even in the presence of the Teacher!



I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.

Can we identify with the desire of these people to be with the Teacher? With their spiritual hunger?

We wonder at their persistence in pursuing Jesus! We marvel at their disregard for personal comfort in order to come into the presence of the Teacher.

They are hungry! They are so weak from hunger; Jesus knows they will collapse before they find food. But they place hearing the voice of Jesus above eating.

Some of them are such a long way from the comfort of their own beds. They have been camping out without campers. Sleeping on the ground, but they don’t seem to care.

We wonder why they are oblivious to all the things that occupy most of our time and attention.

Yes, why?

Why are we not as appreciative of the opportunity so readily at hand to every one of us?

The Teacher is here! Every day! His class is always in session, because He is always present.

It is as easy for us to be serious students of the Teacher now as it was difficult for them then.

And yet, we are so often truant. Skipping class or simply not paying attention to the Teacher at all.

Why is that, we wonder.



People were overwhelmed with amazement. "He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

Here the people were justifiably overcome with wonder. And no wonder. They didn’t see something like this every day!

What does it take to amaze us? Are we amazed yet?

If not, maybe we are somewhat justified. It isn’t easy to live in a constant state of any emotion.

But Jesus isn’t just any Person. And what He has done for us – is doing for us every day – is nothing short of amazing.

He created us – everything we have is from Him. We breathe, think, walk and talk, plan and work, sleep and dream because of Him.

He became one of us. Lived as a human being! Faced the struggles we face. Did it perfectly and without sin!

He died for us – Not just any death, but one filled with love for us. He took the punishment for our sins. He forgives.

He rose for us – Took death out of the devil’s hands and fear of death from our hearts. Because He lives, we will live forever in a place where we will never die.

He is with us – He promised to be so. He is our ever-present Teacher, changing us to become more like Him.

He gives the Holy Spirit – We have a counselor, a tutor to help us change our hearts to be like His. He produces His fruit in our lives – love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control.

Amazed yet?



Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him…for it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach.

Here the Teacher rejects the prevalent religious tradition of ceremonial hand washing. Jesus knows it’s just silly or worse. It promises, but doesn’t deliver. Nothing changes!

If behavior is to change, first the heart must change!

After all, it's a heart problem. People do not say bad things because their tongues are evil. And hands only become instruments of murder when hatred or jealousy is in the heart.

Jesus gives a brilliant diagnosis of the root cause of every bad act - All these evils come from inside…

So naturally, this is where He desires to do His work in us! Rather than focusing on changing outward behavior, together with the Teacher we turn our attention inward.

His diagnosis exposes the quackery of any religion that primarily seeks to control or change outward behaviors. A list of do’s and don’ts while the heart is left untouched!

In fact, most religion is just stops signs and speed limits. It tells what to do, but provides no help to do them.

Jesus offers this more practical paradigm: Change the heart – change the behavior!

To accomplish this, an introduction is needed. Meet the Teacher who can change our behavior from the inside out!

This is what the University of Jesus is all about! Only as a student of this Teacher can we find power to change our behavior and do the good we desire – because only He can change our hearts.



You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

The Pharisees and teachers of the law accuse Jesus of not keeping the prevailing religious traditions. They were right! He didn’t teach His students to keep all their rules either.

Why not?

They seem harmless enough. A little ceremonial hand-washing here and little extra Sabbath rule-keeping there! What’s the harm?

The problem with these traditions - why the Teacher refused them – is that they were convenient substitutes for doing the more difficult things God really desired of them.

Jesus indicts this persistent tendency of religion:

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.

Jesus refuses to go along to get along!

Instead, the Teacher calls people back to the greater purposes of God’s commands – changed hearts and lives!

Keeping the proper outward ceremonial forms of tradition can never get to the heart of God. And therefore can never create in us the character of God.

Only becoming a student of Jesus leads to a changed heart and life. One that looks more and more like the Teacher!

Nothing else will do.

They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.



They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

You know what’s most puzzling about Jesus’ students here?

Not the fact they are amazed when Jesus calms the storm, but that they are completely amazed!

They’ve seen Jesus feed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fishes and have leftovers. They were present as He healed the sick. They even saw a little girl raised from the dead!

If Jesus could do all this, wouldn’t they suspect He might just have some power over the weather too?

How can they be completely amazed?

Mark writes - they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

What would Jesus have to do before they would understand who it is they follow?

We’re not sure. Because we don’t know for sure how to let Jesus’ love and power penetrate our own hard hearts.

He’s done amazing things. Came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead and made an offer to be our Savior and Teacher.

Haven’t we forgotten about the loaves too!



They gathered up what they had and brought it to Jesus.

Here Mark tells about Jesus feeding 5,000 with only fives loaves of bread and two fishes. After dinner they even have leftovers!

How does this work? Mark doesn’t say, because it defies explanation! It's a miracle!

Mark only writes that Jesus received what His students brought to Him and blessed it.

Earlier, Jesus simply told His students to take an inventory. He asks them what they have to offer for dinner. They find only five loaves and two fishes!

Jesus does all the rest!

Isn’t this how we should understand our relationship with the Teacher?

How does Jesus work in our lives? We can’t fully explain this either. The Teacher is working in our hearts in ways we can’t comprehend.

We only know we enjoy the benefits of His power in our lives. We are becoming more like this Teacher as we learn from Him. We are filled!

Our story defies explanation too. Because an honest appraisal of our character and ability tell us we don’t possess what it takes to become very much like the Teacher.

Kind of like bringing five loaves and two fishes to feed 5,000!

But when we offer ourselves to Jesus – become His students - He blesses our little and the results are miraculous. We are changed to be much more like Him than we ever dreamed possible.

Like Mark, we can only tell our story – we know what’s happening - but we can’t fully account for it. It defies explanation!



Jesus and the apostles are exhausted. Overwhelmed by an uninterrupted schedule of teaching and serving! They need a break!

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

But it didn’t turn out to be much of a vacation. In fact, it was over before it started! People found out where He was going, ran ahead and got there before He did!

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Of course we are always impressed by the wonderful things Jesus teaches. But here we are amazed by His tireless dedication to teach! His incredible love and empathy for others!

Yes, it turned out to be another working vacation!

Today, it is still the kindness and compassion that attract us to the Teacher. And we feel He has the same dedication and desire to teach us that He showed the people that day.

In a way, they are amazing too. They run all the way around the lake to get to Him! How very committed they are to being in the presence of the Teacher!

Isn’t this is the true heart of every student of Jesus? Great enthusiasm to learn more from our Teacher! As zealous to be in His presence as He is to teach us!

And just like our Teacher, we will never take a vacation from this.



Here John is in prison. Why? He dared to preach repentance to a King!

Perhaps Herod knew enough Scripture to understand John was right when he said - It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife!

And if not for the anger of his wife, Herod probably would have allowed John to continue his fiery ministry in freedom.

But Herod’s wife was not so forgiving! She wanted John dead! But…

Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.

At some level Herod respected John’s courage and message. He may have even liked him.

This makes it all the more amazing when Herod ends up ordering John’s execution. Why did he do it? What could possibly make a man do something he knows is so very wrong?

Of course it began with a rash promise he made to his wife’s daughter after her dance at a banquet. He promised to grant any request she might have. And after talking with her mother she asked for John’s head on a platter!

But surely even a King can acknowledge a mistake in judgment rather than make a greater mistake by taking the life of an innocent man!

No, the real reason Herod ordered the execution was to be politically correct - The king was greatly distressed - but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her.

In front of all his high officials and military commanders Herod simply caved to peer pressure. He couldn’t find the courage to do the right thing.

Aren’t there times in our own lives when we find it much easier to be politically correct than to listen to the Teacher and do what is right?


Are You Qualified?

Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two…they went out and preached…

Here Jesus sends the Twelve out to preach. This doesn’t seem possible! Are they really qualified?

A few months ago they were fishing, collecting taxes and doing other jobs. They have no seminary training. No Master’s Degree in Religion.

But they’ve been with the Master Teacher. This is their only training and the full extent of their preparation. And now they are qualified to represent Jesus for this one reason alone – they’ve been His students.

Isn’t this all that’s required? They have something to share because they have been with the Teacher – learned from Him!

And remember, it isn’t their idea to share the message of Jesus. The Teacher sends them out with His power and authority.

But their faith to fulfill this mission will be tested. In the crucible of this new experience, they will learn to trust God for all their needs.

These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.”

They will go out to share the message of Jesus with only the clothes on their backs, the shoes on their feet and sticks!

How excited and even apprehensive they must have been as they went forward to fulfill the Teacher’s assignment.

This experience will teach them that God is able to provide everything they need to survive and accomplish this task and even greater ones waiting in their futures.

They will find out. When Jesus gives a mission, He also gives the provision!
Being a student of Jesus is the most exciting and daring kind of life, don’t you think?


Limiting God

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.

Here Jesus goes home. Surely, we can identify with the tender feelings in His heart for the people of His hometown. What wonderful things He desired to do for them!

Sadly, it was not to be. Here the very Son of God is in their midst. He’s ready to do anything for them, but they have no faith in Him.

Why didn’t Jesus miraculously make all the needed improvements anyway? And just go ahead and better all their personal lives in spite of their unwillingness to trust Him!

Apparently God doesn’t work that way. There is the very important matter of freedom of choice God grants to every person. He will not force Himself into any life. He must be welcomed.

How different everything could have been for the town of Nazareth! But these relatives and former neighbors of Jesus limited God’s power by their own unwillingness to believe.

The problem in Nazareth that day was not Jesus’ lack of ability to change and improve their lives. The problem was their inability to accept and trust Him. Jesus is amazed by their lack of faith!

We think, what a waste! But are things all that different today?

Now the Teacher has come to our hometown. He is offering to take new students. He promises to change our lives to become like His.

Any takers?


Then just call us honorary citizens of Nazareth! Because this is how we too are limiting the power of Jesus to change our lives.


Why Bother?

"Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?"

Here a man is told not to bother Jesus anymore. They think the situation is hopeless. It’s too late!

Jesus tells the man not to listen to this advice! Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe."

When Jesus follows him home, the people there laugh at His hopeful assessment of the situation. Their thoughts? Why bother!

In our own lives sometimes things seem so far gone we are tempted to think nothing can be done. Nobody can help. Why bother?

Our marriage is going south. We're miles apart. This can’t be fixed. Why bother?

My child doesn’t listen to me anymore. He hangs around with the wrong crowd. Now he’s in trouble with the law. Why bother?

I've lost my job. I am so far in debt I'll never get my head above water. Creditors hassle me all day long! Why bother?

Our church seems dead. We don’t get anything out of going anymore. Things will never change. Why bother?

My spiritual life is moving in an endless circle. No matter how hard I try, it ends up right where it started. Spinning my wheels! Why bother?

Why bother is such lousy advice!

Do what Jesus does. Ignore it! Because no situation is too far gone when Jesus is in the picture! Here He proves it by raising the little girl from the dead!!!

Listen to the Teacher! Ignore any voice – even your own – that tempts you to despair. Where Jesus is…always there is hope. Believe!