Updated: Apr 23
Good morning bus riders!
Today we have reached the seventh Sunday of Easter. Next Sunday is Pentecost – the Fiftieth day in the counting of the omer [Christian style]. That means we have another week to go until true Christians graduate into full-time ministry for Yahweh.
Raise your hands if you realize this is a fictitious bus stop and is not real.
<No need to look for raised hands as it is an imaginary bus stop.>
In my imagination, there is only one bus that comes by each Sunday. It is the bus of Christianity. In this imaginary town, that is the only bus that comes and stops here. It takes riders many different places, but it only carries Christians to their destinations.
I used to live in a big city, where they had many buses that ran every day, during many hours of the day. At any one bus stop, many buses would stop. A bus rider had to know which bus to take, because getting on the wrong bus meant veering off that road, going someplace unwanted.
A savvy bus rider knew the bus route number. The bus driver would change the route number on the overhead sign, above the windshield. That way a bus rider could tell what bus was coming to the stop and know when the right bus route stopped.
In David’s Psalm 1 today, he pointed out there were two imaginary bus routes in his Jerusalem. One was the bus of the righteous and the other was the bus of the wicked.
While the bus stop might bring both the wicked and the righteous together at the same stop, one would take a wrong turn and head away from Yahweh. The other would be the one headed towards eternal salvation.
At the end of the line, both buses took riders to their judgment, at death. The righteous did not need to ride the bus any longer. They had successfully navigated the road home. The wicked had to start all over again.
It takes years for a baby to grow up and be able to know where he or she wants to go; and, then it takes courage to actually walk to the bus stop and wait.
In Psalm 1 David wrote: “Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,” following that with: “Their delight is in the law of the Lord, and they meditate on his law day and night.”
Now, that says “happy,” when the word written can also mean “blessed.” I point that out because people can read this song of praise and say, “I’m happy with the way my life is, because I have the freedom to do whatever I choose to do.”
Raise your hand if you are confused about hearing a preacher say, “Don’t sin or you’ll go to hell,” and you know you have already sinned, so, “What the hell?”
<Look for imaginary hands raised.>
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles today, we can imagine the scene. The disciples of Jesus are all gathered together and Peter stands up and says, “We have to replace Judas Iscariot.”
Peter said about Judas: “He was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” In the verses cut out of this reading, Peter added: “Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.”
That says Judas rode the bus driven by Jesus every week, for three years. He sat alongside all the others on that bus to true Christianity. Then … he decided to ride the bus that traveled the road to perdition.
Like David ended his psalm: “the way of the wicked is doomed.” The word translated as “doomed” actually says “to perish.”
Certainly, whatever happened to Judas [and there are those who argue how he died and if he committed suicide or lived longer as a recluse], the point is there were two groups – two buses to ride – one going to heaven and one going to hell.
I believe “hell” is where we are right now. The proverbial “hell” most souls are “doomed” to suffer is coming back again, as an eternal soul reincarnated in a new body of flesh. Then, it is starting all over with a blank slate, having to live and learn all over again.
In the lesson read in Acts, we are told, “together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons.”
The word translated as “crowd” is better translated as “multitude,” which says Jesus did not just have twelve disciples. He had a hundred twenty; but because we don’t know their names, they are called “ochlos” or “common people.”
While not stated, because they are just “a number” of followers, one could assume many were family of Jesus, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and of course his mother. Some of the disciples could be cousins of Jesus, with other cousins not leaders, just followers. Some of the followers could have been friends or neighbors that believed serving Jesus was their “calling.”
If you do the math, one-tenth of one hundred twenty is twelve. The loss of Judas meant only eleven disciples were leading the rest. The ratio was then almost eleven to one [10.91:1], rather than ten to one. That means that Jesus had assigned one person to be the organizer of himself and nine other. That means there were nine followers of Jesus who had no organizer, because Judas had been theirs.
In what Peter said is an important clue that relates to this whole number of one hundred twenty. He said, “The men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.”
When Peter said “the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,” that actually says those who followed Jesus were entered by his divine Spirit – including Judas. Because that divine Spirit had “came in” them, they were then able to be “sent out.” When they were sent out – first the commission of twelve and then the commission of seventy in pairs – they “went out” as duplications of “Jesus,” whose Spirit was the “Lord” over each.
Because the number had risen to then be one hundred twenty, “from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us” – where the word translated as “he was taken up” can mean “he was carried off” – this encompasses the entirety of Jesus’ ministry, from Anointment to arrest.
When Peter said a replacement for Judas had to be “one of these,” who “must become a witness with us to his resurrection,” that is an important aspect of this election to replace Judas.
Remembering this is a mandatory reading from Acts during the season of Easter, which symbolizes the time in every true Christian’s life when he or she must be preparing to enter ministry – “go out with Jesus being one’s Lord,” after the Spirit of Jesus has “come in” – the requirement spoken by Peter is the same today as it was back then.
Being “a witness with us to his resurrection” does not mean having to have seen Jesus crucified, nails through hands and feet, side pierced, dead; and then, placed in a tomb – knowing Jesus died – only to miraculously see that dead Jesus resurrected in the flesh again, standing among those who had followed Jesus for three years.
That event happened two thousand years ago [give or take]. If that is the only meaning of “a witness with us to his resurrection,” then why read it aloud during the season when going into ministry means acting just like those who acted long ago?
<Look for imaginary shocked or quizzical faces.>
Look at what John wrote in his first epistle; first thing read: “If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son.”
The word Luke wrote that is relative to Peter calling for “a witness” is “martyra.” The word John wrote in his letter, where “testimony” is written three times and “testified” once more are: “martyrian, martryia [twice], and memartyrēken.” It is the same root word.
In order to give “testimony” one must be “a witness” and vice versa.
To think that one has to have seen Jesus two thousand years ago [give or take] is to be limited like humans are. Peter was a human then, so he could give “human testimony” to the fact that Jesus resurrected. However, John writing “the testimony of God is greater,” that says being “a witness” Spiritually is greater than ‘being there, doing that.”
Can you see that?
<Look for nodding heads or quizzical faces.>
It is most important to be able to see that, because there can be no “human testimony” today that says “Jesus is risen.” Human testimony has read a book that says that, which leads them to imagine that resurrection, so they are willing to testify to that as a fact.
Legally … that is hearsay and inadmissible in any human court in the world.
An atheist can listen to people “testify” or “witness” for their beliefs, but if all you have is “human testimony,” then forget about ever convincing anyone else to believe you are telling the truth.
“Show me the resurrected Jesus” is a valid, logical, legal demand. Within a relatively short period of time – between forty to seventy years – all those who were living when Jesus stood among them died. John wrote the Apocalypse around 90 A.D. [C.E. to the atheists]. There could be no “human testimony,” relative to Jesus’ resurrection, once John died.
Raise your hand if you have seen Jesus alive and well, marks in his hands, feet and side.
<No need to look. Question is rhetorical.>
That is what John meant when he wrote, “This is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son.” Everything John wrote – three epistles and the Apocalypse – was not John remembering what he had seen with his physical eyes, felt with his physical hands, smelt with his physical nose, tasted with his physical tongue, or heard with his physical ears. No Scripture ever written is human testimony. All Scripture “is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son.”
Can you see that?!?!
The “testimony of God is greater” than human testimony.
Thus, Peter did not stand up and say, “Hey guys, we need to replace Judas. So, raise your hands if you saw Jesus resurrected forty-two days ago.”
Peter was Spiritually raised when he spoke. Peter spoke as Jesus resurrected within his body, giving the testimony of God. Out of one hundred twenty people there, ALL had been reborn as Jesus. ALL knew personally what it meant to be Jesus resurrected. ALL were witnesses to that Spiritual resurrection. Therefore, ALL were qualified as worthy to be chosen to take Judas’ place.
In John’s first letter the translation says, “Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts.” That is a bad translation, even though the truth can still be glimpsed in those words.
What was actually written says this: “this having faith result who Son that of God has he [or she] testimony in himself [or herself].”
Rather than the plural, as a collection of “those,” John wrote in the singular as “this one who is having faith” has been led “to witness” or “to testify” as a result of being the Son, which is being Spiritually possessed by God, such that he or she is able to give “testimony.”
In the Greek word written by John that ends this statement, “hautō,” that root word means “himself, herself, itself, themselves, myself, or yourself.” If you noted some repetition there, it was the word “self.” In Scripture, a “self” is the equivalent of a “soul.”
A “self” or a “soul” is neuter gender. The body it animates has a sexual designation; but the self or the soul is neuter. All flesh [all matter] is the opposite of heaven, so all that is physical is feminine [or negative]. When the Spirit of Yahweh marries a soul, it takes on the essence of masculinity [or positivity] – as from the Father is born the Son – in a “self” in human form.
That says, the testimony of God is only possible in the Son, regardless of what human gender that a soul in a body of flesh has.
Of the one hundred twenty gathered together, to whom Peter spoke, there were a number of women, including Mother Mary. There was Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Cleopas. There were others, most certainly.
When Peter addressed them as “brothers,” the word is not exclusive of women who were filled with the Spirit of Jesus, who equally could give “the testimony of God.” As Jesus reborn they were all brothers as “Sons of man.”
This is a most important way to read John’s first letter, as today’s lesson applies to making it known what “testimony of God” means. It becomes the definition of faith, which says “belief” is the core value of “human testimony,” while true faith is the core value of the “testimony of God.”
Peter could have tossed a bouquet of flowers over his shoulder, into the mass that numbered one hundred twenty [minus eleven] and said, “Whoever catches this bouquet will be the next to sit on the board of Jesus witnesses.”
Any one of them was qualified, but some might have had better ‘people skills,’ so they opened the floor for nominations.
This brings us to the Gospel reading from John today.
The first words read say, “Jesus prayed for his disciples.”
That was not written. At no place in John’s seventeenth chapter can the word “disciples” be found. In verse 9 John wrote, “I concerning them am praying,” where “them” is presumed to be his “disciples.”
Because Acts speaks of “them” numbering one hundred twenty, with several of them being women, it makes no sense that Jesus would offer prayers to his Father only for eleven disciples … and the only one listening – John.
When John recalled Jesus immediately telling Yahweh who he was praying “about, around, or concerning” [from “peri”], Jesus said, “not concerning the world do I pray.”
In that, our focus needs to go back to the Acts reading, where Peter said one who had been among them, following Jesus – named Judas – who had been one of “them,” but turned away and went the way of “the world.”
In David’s Psalm 1, Jesus can be seen as praying for those “happy” and “blessed,” who were “them” planted like trees by a stream, bearing fruit. Jesus was not praying for the “wicked” of the world who were going to be like Judas – perished.
In John’s first epistle, one can see how Jesus was praying for the ones who held within “them” the “testimony of God.” Jesus was not praying “about” those of “the world” who were only filled with “human testimony.”
John recorded Jesus praying: “And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
Can you see how Jesus said to Yahweh, “I am no longer in the world” that is a statement about there would no longer be “human testimony” about Jesus as the Son of man, because he knew he would be arrested later that night, ending his ministry – as Peter had said, “until the day when he was [carried away] from us”?
<Look for nodding heads.>
Can you see how when Jesus said, “but they are in the world” refers not only to the eleven drunken disciples not far away at that time, but also to all those left behind in the upper room? Can you see how Jesus prayed for all of “them” too?
<Look for nodding heads.>
Can you hear the meaning of Jesus saying, “they are in the world” as meaning “they” carried on the torch that was “the testimony of God” within them, because they had married Yahweh by serving His Son?
<Look for nodding heads.>
Can you understand that Jesus telling his Father in heaven, “protect them in your name that you have given me,” means “protect them in the name of Jesus”?
Do you remember the name Jesus was given to Mary by Gabriel, because the name means “Yah[weh] Will Save”?
<Look for nodding heads.>
Can you grasp how Jesus saying, “that they may be one, as we are one” means the marriage of a soul to Yahweh’s Spirit that makes one Sanctified and Holy?
Can you see the prayer of Jesus asking his Father to resurrect His Son in all who followed the lead of Jesus and produced the acts of commitment to Yahweh … walking the path of righteousness?
<Look for nodding heads.>
Your homework assignment over this last week before Shavuot celebrates the maturation of the first fruits – when ministry begins – I want you to study deeply what Jesus prayed for in John’s chapter seventeen in his Gospel.
I want you to see how John not writing “disciples” not only frees the words he wrote up to be references to the whole of one hundred twenty followers – family and disciples, lead and common – but also Jesus praying directly to you today. See how Jesus praying for "them" and "they" goes the entire history of Christianity and all who have built it by being Sanctified by Yahweh, in the name of Jesus, all themselves Anointed ones by the Spirit.
I want you to remember how John wrote in his first epistle, “this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son.”
See yourself as the Son. See yourself as John sitting just feet away from his father who prayed for all who would become true Christians. See yourself as Jesus reborn, also the Son, so you know the truth of what was said two thousand years ago [give or take]. See yourself as one of “them” who can be “a witness with all who have been the saints that formed true Christianity to his resurrection.”
Consider how Judas' departure necessitated a replacement who had been reborn as Jesus - witnessed his presence within their flesh. Without someone being truly Christian - numbering with the multitudes - who will be the replacements for those who have ascended now?
It must be you continuing this.