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To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  And when Jesus was speaking to Pilate, He said, Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me.”  As such, anyone who desires to be on the side of truth must first listen to Jesus and see the facts from His point of view.

Matthew’s gospel presents for us certain facts.  In Matthew 14.22-25, these are the facts recorded: 

  1. Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd.
  2. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.  When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
  3. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.

However, these facts recorded in Matthew do not reveal the truth.  The truth is… Jesus made them get into the boat immediately to go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida, but they waited until dark and set off across the lake for Capernaum.  So the truth behind the fact of why they were in the middle of the lake buffeted by waves was this… they did not listen and therefore did not obey Jesus.

Likewise in Matthew 28.9-10, Jesus told the women, “Greetings,” He said.  They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.  Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see Me.”  When you look at the fact that the women were hurrying away from the tomb after the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.  Come and see the place where He lay.  Then go quickly and tell His disciples:  ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see Him.’  Now I have told you.” 

Again the recorded facts of this one account give the impression that straight after the angelic message, as the women were hurrying away, Jesus appeared to them and greeted them.  If that is the truth, then the facts of John 20.1-18 must be false, for the facts recorded in John 20 distinctly show the women going back to inform the men and no one saw Jesus until verse 15 when Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene, something supported by Mark 16.9:  When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven demons.  Which is corroborated by Luke 8.2:  Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out…

When the facts do not agree with one another… then you know you are not looking at the truth.  For when the truth is revealed, all the facts will fit perfectly in harmony with each other without conflict.

Thus, the impression of the recorded facts of Matthew 28.16 – Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go – given to those who have not read what is written with attention to detail and probably without the Holy Spirit teaching them and guiding them, is that the eleven did go that morning in obedience to the command given by the angels and Jesus in Matthew 28.7 and Matthew 28.10.

If that was the truth – that Matthew’s recording of the facts in chapter 28 is the truth – then the account of Mark 16.11 has slandered the eleven, for it is written:  When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen Him, they did not believe it.  While it is also written:  These (two) returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.  And according to Mark then, Jesus would have been most unreasonable when… Later Jesus appeared to the eleven as they were eating; He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.  If indeed the facts of Matthew 28 reflect the truth, then the eleven would have already seen Jesus risen before the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and their unbelief of their report is ludicrous… and Jesus’ rebuke of them completely out of place. 

If the meaning of Matthew 28.16 meant that the eleven went to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go that morning (resurrection morning), then their behaviour in Luke 24.36-37 is out of character of men who had already seen Him alive and had spoken to Him… for the physician Luke recorded:  While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  If they had been to Galilee that morning, they would have seen Jesus… then they would not be startled, frightened and thinking they saw a ghost.

Likewise, if the eleven went to the mountain that morning… then the account by John in John 20.24-25 about Thomas (one of the twelve) not believing the other ten that Jesus had visited them in the locked room is also in error.  For if the eleven… that would include Thomas, had gone that morning, then Thomas saying, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it,” is an utterly meaningless response to the others telling him, “We have seen the Lord!”

The supposition that Matthew 28.16 meant that the eleven did go to Galilee that morning as commanded by the angels and Jesus through the women flies against the evidence of Mark, Luke and John.  Either Matthew’s gospel is wrong or Mark, Luke and John are wrong, or… Matthew 28.16 describes the eleven going to Galilee to the mountain Jesus spoke of sometime during the other 39 days, but the truth is this, the eleven did not go to Galilee on resurrection morning.

Since Jesus said, Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me,” then anyone who has not listened to Jesus is not on the side of truth.  You may have the facts but not the truth.  Matthew 28.16 records the fact that the eleven did go to Galilee… but not the truth that they did not go that morning because they did not listen to Jesus.

A person with all the facts does not necessarily have the truth… such a person is he who does not listen to Jesus, who is a person who does not listen to God.  A scientist can have all the facts about the Earth, science and the universe, but if that scientist does not listen to Jesus, he does not have the truth.  For as the facts in Matthew 28.16 seem to say that the eleven went to Galilee that morning in response to the messages given to the women by the angels and Jesus… the truth is they did not.  The facts may seem to point that we are evolved from single celled molecules… the truth is… we are not.  The facts may seem to point out that the universe is 15 billion years old or more… the truth is it is not.  What facts seem to show is not the truth.  The truth only shows itself to those who listen to Jesus and hold onto His teachings.  Those who listen to Jesus and do not hold onto His teachings can have the facts correct, but not the truth.

This is how and why many who know the Bible and what is written in it and even believe what they have read… know the facts, but the truth escapes them.  And when you only know the facts but not the truth, a mystery confronts you.  Scientists know for a fact that dinosaurs walked the Earth, but when they see the footprints of men fossilised with the footprints of dinosaurs, they see the fact, but they are confronted with the mystery… how can two creatures that lived hundreds of millions of years apart leave their footprints on the same path of ground at the same time?  They see a 15 billion year old universe and a story of creation that lasted six days… they see the facts, but they are confronted with the mystery because they cannot see the truth that God, with whom nothing is impossible, can create a 15 billion year old universe in six days.  Impossible with men but not impossible with God.  But then you can only see that if you listen to Jesus, for Jesus said, “…with God all things are possible.”

So what happens when you have believers and disciples who believe in Jesus but will not listen to Him or hold onto His teachings?  What happens when you have disciples who heard what Jesus said, “Go to Bethsaida,” but will not hold onto that command and go to Capernaum?  You have a group of men struggling against the elements in the dark who do not recognise Jesus when He comes to them.

What happens when you have a group of disciples who will not believe what the other disciples who have held onto Jesus’ words and went on the third morning to see if anything had happened at the tomb?  You see, the women held onto the teachings of Jesus, for He taught 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.  He spoke plainly about this…  Plainly enough for even women (God forbid) to understand, plainly enough for them to get up early on the third day to go to the tomb… but obviously not plainly enough for men to understand.

What happens?  What happens is exactly what happened as written in the accounts of Luke, Mark and John:

  1. …they did not believe it  (Mark 16.11) when Mary Magdalene told them;
  2. …they did not believe them either (Mark 16.13) when the two disciples on the way to Emmaus told them.
  3. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the eleven and to all the others.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.  But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.  Peter, however, got up… (Luke 24.9-12)

They did not believe the first message from the angels (Luke 24.5-7).  They did not believe the second message from Mary Magdalene (John 20.18), and the third message from the rest of the women (Matthew 28.9-10), and the fourth message from the two on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16.12-13).  If you correlate this with the Parable of the Sower where the seeds are the words… four messages… four lots of seeds, and not one was believed… not one.  Could you say they were the ones who hear the word and understand it, accept it, retain it and by persevering produce a crop?

It is any wonder Mark 16.14 reads:  Later Jesus appeared to the eleven as they were eating; He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.  And when there is no repentance… there can be no change. 

When Jesus got into the boat with Peter, Matthew recorded in Matthew 14.32-33:  And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”  But Mark recorded a telltale line:  They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.  Now that is the truth!  Yet John recorded:  Then they were willing to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.  Did they reach where they were heading?  Really?  Jesus said Bethsaida, they said Capernaum, but Mark wrote:  When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.

Jesus wanted them in Bethsaida that night, but they ended up in Gennesaret the next morning… does that sound like the fulfillment of the perfect will of God?  Did anyone see the words ‘and they repented’ in any of the accounts?  Did anyone see those same words written in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John that they repented for not believing the message of the angels through the women, for not believing the message of Jesus through Mary Magdalene, for not believing the message of Jesus through the other women, and for not believing the testimony of the two disciples from Emmaus?  No… they were startled, frightened and some worshipped as it is written in Matthew 28.17:  When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

You see, it is easy to replace repentance with praise and worship.  They praised Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”  Whoopee!  Even demons proclaimed that.  They worshipped Him… but that did not undo the damage… they ended up in Gennesaret instead of Bethsaida… Jesus did not get His will and they did not get their wish.  Praise and worship without repentance is meaningless.  There was no repentance… there was no change. 

“…when the Holy Spirit comes on you… …He will speak only what He hears… …taking from what is Mine and making it known to you.  Did they wait for the Holy Spirit before appointing Matthias?  No.

Jesus taught them to eat His flesh and drink His blood, and He declared all food clean.  Did they hold onto His teachings when James the Younger judged that Gentiles should abstain from foods polluted by idols, meat of strangled animals and blood?  Do you not realise death by crucifixion on a cross is slow strangulation?  And we have eaten His flesh?  What does abstinence from animal flesh do to add to our righteousness, which we have already received through faith in Him and His words? 

The Gospels record the facts and the truth, but to see the truth you must listen to Jesus and hold onto His teachings.

When you have the facts… but not the truth, you only have a mystery.  You can declare the facts… Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus rose again, Jesus is the Holy One of God… but without listening to Him and holding onto His teachings, you do not have the truth about Jesus, only the mystery of Jesus.  Jesus never said, “I am the Mystery,” but rather, He said plainly, “I am… the Truth…” 

The unpalatable truth is this, and the facts support it… Jesus was greeted with unbelief from the eleven on resurrection morning and received disobedience to His first post resurrection command to them.

The church was divided from day one… with unbelief… for the eleven did not believe the women and the two male disciples.  And the need to repent of this unbelief, disobedience and lack of unity was covered over by amazement and praise and worship.

The bulk of this is hidden to all who would rather hold onto the teachings of men like James than the teachings of Jesus.  It falls on deaf ears of those who prefer to listen to apostles and prophets without listening to Jesus.  They are just like the Israelites who said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen.  But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”  Let me remind you… that generation never entered the promised land, but perished in the desert… they lived and died as Israelites, yes, but not as Israelites that God had in mind.

So, what do we do then?  Do we judge?  No, for the Lord said, “Judge not…”  Do we condemn?  No, for the Lord said, “Do not condemn…”  Do we remove their splinters?  Only if we are sure there is no plank in front of us.  What do we do?  We repent… for when Jesus said, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness,” and was baptised at the Jordan, He was not baptised into the baptism of water, but was baptised into the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  So, repentance is a baptism and being a baptism, it is an infilling, not a washing… for we are baptised with fire and the Holy Spirit as an infilling… therefore, repentance is an infilling.  We repent because our first baptism is the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 

And if we are to obey the Lord and hold onto His teachings, no… onto His will and wish that we become one as They are One, then we make ourselves one with the eleven.  If they disbelieved… we have disbelieved more.  If they disobeyed… we have disobeyed more.  If they were split… we are split even more… and so we repent, and because we are one with them by the glory of the Lord… our repentance is their repentance, and where there is repentance, there is change, there is forgiveness and there is… the making of all things new again.

Thus, those congregations who can see the truth in the facts are raised up to repent.  And it is from this repentance that the resurrection of the church that should have been, could have been, will be – the unceasing repentance of those who listen to Jesus and hold onto His teachings – is like the beating of a heart, which will cause the blood to flow through the whole body.  That blood is the blood of Jesus and only a heart of flesh that is soft, pliable can pump… a hardened heart is a death sentence.

Some will say, and indeed have already said that this is a clumsily made up doctrine… even of Satan.  Let us not insult Satan… any doctrine of Satan is sophisticated, full of wisdom and knowledge, never clumsy, and will certainly never demand and plead for repentance.  No, the first word from Jesus as He began to preach was “Repent.”  So, repentance it must be if we are to go back to the beginning to see what should have been and what could have been to be what will be.  Others will honour us by calling us ‘false prophets’… yet no false prophets will preach repentance unceasingly, but our claim to any prophecy is this:  Jesus is coming back in the flesh on clouds of glory as He promised.

I say… honour us because each and every elect has volunteered to be the false prophet so that Scripture can be fulfilled and Jesus can return without further delay.  If indeed we are false… then God has answered our prayers, and as the man born blind told the Pharisees, “We know that God does not listen to sinners.  He listens to the godly man who does His will.”

If you wish to believe in Him, continue to believe, you will be saved.  If you wish to follow Him, continue to follow Him… you will be blessed.  But if you wish to repent, then repent until you see the truth from the facts and no mystery confronts you, but only the Son of Man in all His glory for you to plainly see who He really is.

The facts have been present since the first word was put to paper by the apostles and disciples… but the truth is only revealed when you listen to Jesus and hold onto His teachings until the Spirit of Truth comes and confirms it by His power.  Amen.  As Paul wrote:  For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power …not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…

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