Friday, May 29, 2015

Lesson 9: Jesus, the Master Teacher

Lesson 9: Jesus, the Master Teacher

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Luke

Lesson 9: Jesus, the Master Teacher

The congregation that gathered in the synagogue in Jesus' day was made up of humble townsfolk--fishermen, merchants, craftsmen, and laborers and their wives. As they participated in the psalms, the blessings, the prayers, and the reading of the Law and the Prophets, they eagerly awaited the sermon from the Nazarene who had been causing such a stir around Galilee. And they weren't disappointed. "And they were astonished at His doctrine: for His word was with power" (Luke 4:32).

They were struck with amazement--thunderstruck in their souls! Jesus' preaching packed a powerful punch!

Why? Because "His word possessed authority" or as Mark had it, "He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark 1:22). This was always the way Jesus taught. The apostle Matthew confirms this: "And when Jesus finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished at His teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes" (Matt. 7:28, 29). Their teachers, mostly Pharisees, were in bondage to quotation marks--they loved to quote authorities.

But when Jesus spoke, it was just the opposite. His style was, "You have heard that it was said. ... But I say to you." He taught God's Word, not just about God's Word. His teaching of the Law and the Prophets was clear and simple, as it has been with all true preachers of the Word.

Jesus' teaching was not only clear but convicting because the "Holy Spirit descended on Him" at His baptism (Luke 3:22), and because he was "full of the Holy Spirit" when He returned from the Jordan (Luke 4:1), and because when He began to teach He proclaimed, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me" (Luke 4:18). Jesus' listeners in Capernaum were convicted by His words. The people were shocked, thunderstruck. Jesus' teaching was authoritative because He proclaimed God's Word clearly and with conviction.

Christ's favorite theme was to teach about His Father and ours. "Christ was the greatest teacher the world has ever known. ... He came to reveal the character of the Father, that men might be led to worship Him in spirit and in truth" (Ellen G. White, Lift Him Up, p. 166). Jesus' teaching about His Father is an important idea emphasized in the 1888 message.

Strange to say, hatred and rejection dogged His steps all His life. He protested to His own people, "All I have ever done is to tell you the truth I heard from God, yet you are trying to kill Me." A few minutes later "they picked up stones to throw at Him" (John 8:40, 59, GNB). Finally, their enmity knew no bounds. They could not endure His presence among them, and they yelled, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Imagine! Treating the Son of God like that!

Mankind has spent thousands of years searching for God. They have speculated, guessed, reasoned, imagined, philosophized about Him. But Jesus came to reveal Him. "He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). The Chinese have a proverb, "One picture is worth a thousand words." The life and character of Jesus tell us more about God than a thousand philosophers' opinions.

Thus, as Jesus came to reveal God to us, in so doing He revealed another important truth: God has some people who hate Him. Like the truth of agape which took the world by surprise, this was also a new revelation. We humans always have plenty of enemies, but no one had ever before imagined that God has enemies, least of all the people who professed to worship Him!

All heathen religions are based on the idea of God being as elusive as a cure for cancer. People imagined that God is playing hide-and-seek and has withdrawn Himself from human beings. Only special ones are wise or clever enough to discover where He is hiding. Millions go on long journeys to Mecca, Rome, Jerusalem, or other shrines, searching for Him. The ancient Greeks outdid all of us in building magnificent marble temples in which they felt they must seek for God.

Since childhood we have all heard of the Good Shepherd who leaves His "ninety and nine" on that wild stormy night and seeks His one lost sheep "until He find it" (Luke 15:4-6). Its salvation depends entirely on the initiative of the Shepherd. The lost animal knows it's lost, but cannot "arise and go" on its own to find salvation. So, the Lord Jesus Christ "seeks" it. The lost sheep is you and I who are rescued by a love totally outside of us.

And we remember the lost coin, how the lady turns her house upside down until she finds that precious piece of silver. The coin is different from the sheep; it doesn't know it's lost. It represents you and me who were "dead in trespasses and sins [who] walked according to the course of this world, ... fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, ... children of wrath" (Eph. 2:1-3). But Someone found us, buried in the dust and trash of this dark world, unconscious of our condition.

But how does this common theme of God seeking and finding us work out in practical day-by-day living? Does the idea encourage us to be spiritually lazy, doing nothing?

The Prodigal Son story seems on the superficial surface to contradict God's love seeking us, rather than vice versa. The lost son seems to take the initiative in his own salvation. "I will arise and go," he says to himself, and gets up out of the pigsty and goes--on his own (Luke 15:18). Like cars, he has a self-starter. The Father does not come seeking him, to "find" him. Forever after the boy can congratulate himself: "Yes, I was lost; but I found my way back! I'm saved because I 'sought' and 'found' salvation. I exerted the effort. I forced myself to take step after step. I did it. I'm saved by grace, but I'm also saved by my own obedience."

But wait a moment, Mr. Prodigal Son, Mr. Laodicean, not so fast. This parable illustrates how the Holy Spirit seeks and saves us lost ones. It was He who gave the boy sitting with the pigs the conviction that his Father loved him. The Holy Spirit inspired him with the motivation, because as the Comforter whom Jesus promised to send us, He, not self, convicted the boy of "sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, ... because the prince of this world is condemned" (John 16:7-11).

--Paul E. Penno

Raul Diaz

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bryan Gallant at Vernon Memorial on May 30

Just wanted to let you know that Bryan Gallant will be preaching at Vernon Memorial Church this Sabbath.  We are at 6200 Vollmer Rd, Matteson, IL.  He has been working as a missionary for years.   And, has been blessed with a testimony that will help and inspire all those who have suffered loss.   Come hear how God has brought healing and restoration to Bryan and his family.   For more on Bryan and his ministry see the information below.   We will have an afternoon session serve lunch following lunch.  
Raul Diaz
> Blessings!
From Bryan Gallant:
> "God allows us to be broken, re-formed, pushed, so our lives will reveal the fragrance and unseen beauty we were created to share with a world of wounded people."
> If you know someone who has been hurt, lost a loved one, or is struggling under a load in life, read Undeniable: An Epic Journey Through Pain 
> or

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lesson 8: The Mission of Jesus

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Luke

Lesson 8: The Mission of Jesus


This week's lesson includes one of the best-loved stories in the Bible, and one that is a prominent part of the 1888 message--the story of the Good Shepherd. Luke's account of this story (chapter 15, verses 4-7) touches the hearts of adults and children alike, and also represents the "mission" of Jesus.

The 1888 message concept, summarized, says: Christ is a Good Shepherd who is seeking His lost sheep even though we have not sought Him. However, a misunderstanding of God's character causes us to think He is trying to hide from us.


Our quarterly rightly says, "God loves us so much that He Himself will come after us, in order to bring us to Him. We often talk about people seeking God; in reality, God is seeking us" (lesson for May 17).

How did this misunderstanding about God's character begin? It's our natural human love which thinks it must search for God. Heathen religions are based on the idea of God being elusive. People imagined that God is playing hide-and-seek and has withdrawn Himself from human beings. Only special ones are wise or clever enough to discover where He is hiding. Millions go on long journeys to Mecca, Rome, Jerusalem, or other shrines, searching for Him. The ancient Greeks outdid all of us in building magnificent marble temples in which they felt they must seek for God.

But God's love (agape) proves to be the opposite. It is not humans seeking after God, butGod seeking after man: "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). The shepherd left his ninety-nine sheep that were safe and risked his life to find the one that was lost. The woman lit a candle and searched her house until she found the one lost coin. The Spirit of God searched for the heart of the prodigal son and brought him home. There is no story in all the Bible of a lost sheep that must go find his shepherd!

Jesus saw that His mission was to help downcast and despondent people: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel [good news, glad tidings] to the poor [for example, those who can't afford medical treatment]; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18).

But does God's Word contradict itself? Jesus devotes an entire chapter (Luke 15) to say that He is seeking lost sinners, not vice versa. But there are passages in the Old Testament that seem to contradict Him, implying He hides, awaiting the sinner's choice to seek and find Him.

Jesus actually sought out people to heal and resurrect. For example, there was the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:13ff); the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda (5:2-9--He asked him could He heal him!). Note His fervent appeals seeking the hearts of the leaders of the Jews (5:17ff); and there's the bereaved widow of Nain whose funeral for her son He interrupts and raises him (Luke 7:11). None of these came to Him seeking Him; He came to them seeking them. Jesus said His Father even is seeking our fellowship as though He is lonely without us (He is! It hurts Him when we leave Him; John 4:23).

But the Old Testament has commandments to seek and find Him, as though He is hiding from us. For example: "Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger" (Zeph. 2:3). And, "Thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye Me, and ye shall live: ... lest He break out like fire ..." to burn you up or send a tsunami to wash you away (see the threats in Amos 5:4, 6).

And there is Jeremiah 29: "Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart" (vs. 13). If we read the context, we will see that the Lord is not contradicting what Jesus said: the people have come home after 70 years of captivity-exile; at last they are tired of idolatry and Baal worship and are now eager to come to the Lord. It is not a command; it's simple future tense. It's not a threat. In close context, the prophet tells them that the joy of New Covenant living will come instead of Old Covenant fear (31:31-34).

Amos had to speak to Old Covenant-minded people with the only appeal he knew at the time: fear. The Northern Kingdom of Israel had deeply apostatized and were soon to be exiled permanently, lost to history (722 B.C.). But now at last here comes Jesus of Nazareth "to give light to them that sit in darkness" (Luke 1:79). He is the New Covenant. He seeksthe lost sheep "until He find it."

A. T. Jones, one of the 1888 "messengers," caught the idea of Christ taking the initiative. "It has always been Satan's deception to get people to think that Christ is as far away as it is possible to put Him. The farther away men put Christ, even those who profess to believe in Him, the better the devil is satisfied; and then he will stir up the enmity that is in the natural heart ...

"He will prepare us; we cannot prepare ourselves. ... No master workman looks at a piece of work he is doing, as it is half finished, and begins to find fault with that. It is not finished yet. It would be an awful thing if the wondrous Master Workman were to look at us as we are half finished, and say, That is good for nothing. He goes on with His wondrous work. ...

"As we have confidence in Him, we will let Him carry on the work. ... You can go outside of this [Battle Creek] Tabernacle and look up at that window (referring to the window at the back of the pulpit). It looks like only a mess of melted glass thrown together, black and unsightly. But come inside and look from within, and you will see it as a beautiful piece of workmanship. Likewise you and I can look at ourselves, and all looks awry, dark, and ungainly, only a tangled mass. God looks at it from the inside, as it is in Jesus ..." (General Conference Bulletin, 1895, pp. 478, 367-368, condensed).

Ellen G. White summarizes this lesson on the Good Shepherd: "The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. A lost sheep never finds its way back to the fold of itself. If it is not sought for and saved by the watchful shepherd, it wanders until it perishes. What a representation of the Saviour is this! Unless Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had come to seek and to save the wandering, we should have perished. The Pharisees had taught that none but the Jewish nation would be saved, and they treated all other nationalities with contempt. But Jesus attracted the attention of those that the Pharisees despised, and He treated them with consideration and courtesy. ... " (Signs of the Times, Nov. 20, 1893).

"So when the lost sinner is found by the Good Shepherd, heaven and earth unite in rejoicing and thanksgiving. For 'joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance'" [Luke 15:6, 7] (Gospel Workers, p. 182).

Remember, the Hebrew word often translated as "seek" means "inquire of," "pay attention to." Thus Isaiah 55:6 really says, "Pay attention to the Lord while He is available, call upon Him while He is near." In this solemn Day of Atonement, it surely is time to "pay attention to the Lord." That He is still "available" is tremendous Good News.

--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lesson 7: Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Prayer

Lesson 7: Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Prayer

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Luke

Lesson 7: Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Prayer

The dynamic 1888 principle this week is the most basic of all--it is taking the word of God as it reads and letting it mean what is says; we believe that God says what He means and means what He says. This is the first principle of the 1888 message that I learned and it has never failed me in reading and understanding the Scriptures.

The Lord's Prayer is the only prayer that was ever written by a divine being for man. There are no circumstances or conditions in life that are not covered by this petition.

Ellet J. Waggoner demonstrates this principle by giving us a study on what is in the Lord's Prayer according to the Scriptures. The entire study is too lengthy to print here, so I have given a short sample of each line in the prayer, and website links at the end where you will find the complete articles, which you can download.

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name" [1]
What tenderness is expressed in those words! What infinite condescension it reveals on the part of God to allow poor, frail mortals to address Him thus. His greatness is unsearchable and His ways past finding out. Before Him, all the nations "are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless" (Isa. 40:15–17). He walks "on the wings of the wind" (Psalm 104:3); He "has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet" (Nahum 1:3). And yet this awful God has the tenderness of a parent, and His ear is open to the supplications of those who whisper, even in faintest accents, "Our Father"; for we are told that "as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him" (Psalm 103:13). He has assured us that He dwells with him "who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15). Thus the first words of the Lord's Prayer bring us into the most intimate relation with the great Creator.

We also find that the expression in the Lord's Prayer, "in heaven," stands for recognition of the power, the majesty, the omnipotence, and the omniscience of God. All these things should be borne in mind when we approach the throne of grace. This thought will tend to produce reverence and awe. Multiplication of words and "vain repetitions," for which Christ condemned the heathen, arise from the fact that the petitioner thinks more of himself than he does of the One whom he is addressing. But the God whom we worship sits upon the circle of the heavens, and he who has a just sense of His greatness will come with reverence into His presence, and will confine his words to just the things which he needs.

"Your kingdom come" [2]
In this brief petition is contained one of the most comprehensive requests ever made by mortal man.

Thus we learn that to pray, "Your kingdom come," is to pray for the coming of the Lord to destroy the wicked, and to cleanse the earth of everything that defiles, and to give immortality to His people. God is no respecter of persons. Whosoever shall not be found written in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). It will avail nothing that men have said, "Lord, Lord,"--that they have prayed earnestly, even praying for the kingdom of God to come, if in that day any defilement is found in them, they will be cast into the lake of fire. How carefully and blameless we must live if we are able to unite, in saying, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20).

"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" [3]
It is probable that this part of the Lord's Prayer is the least understood of any. The sentence, "Your will be done," is thought by most people to be applicable only in cases of sickness or other trial, to indicate that the sufferer is willing to endure patiently. But this is but a very limited view of the expression.

The Ten Commandments are the will of God.

"Give us day by day our daily bread" [4]
Nothing less than divine wisdom could have framed this petition, so simple and so reasonable is it.

Solomon understood the principle here when he asks only to have what is needed for just today: "Give me neither poverty nor riches--feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, "Who is the Lord?" Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God" (Prov. 30:7–9).

This petition teaches contentment. The sacrifice of Christ is the pledge of God's care for us. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32).

"And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us" [5]
This may be called the crowning petition in this wonderful prayer.

To be able always to pray understandingly and from the heart, "And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us," is something that can be done by, but comparatively few who profess to be, Christians. The one who can do it is in possession of the greatest of all Christian graces--love.

It has been truly said that to forgive is divine. Certainly it is not human. Human nature knows nothing of forgiveness.

It is not natural for us to do this [forgive]; we can do it only when we are partakers of the divine nature. It may be said that God does not actually forgive men until they repent. This is true; but He desires that they shall receive His pardon, and therefore, so far as He is concerned, He has pardoned them. All that is lacking is for them to accept the pardon which He gives them; if they will not, He is clear, and the responsibility of their ruin rests upon themselves.

This brings us to another feature of forgiveness. It is very common for people to say that they can forgive but they cannot forget. That is not true forgiveness. We must forget that he ever injured us. We must treat him and regard him as though he had done us nothing but good instead of nothing but evil.

"And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" [6]
This petition cannot well be considered apart from that which immediately follows it: "but deliver us from the evil one." Both together form a fitting climax to this wonderful prayer, for they indicate, if used understandingly, the soul's desire for purity of heart.

There can be but one conclusion, and that is that this prayer implies a renunciation and hatred of sin, and a desire to have the heart cleansed from it, and to be strengthened again not allowing it [the sin] to pass the shield of faith, and gain access to the heart. This is the only way that temptations can be instantly repelled, since, as we have read, evil thoughts are natural to the human heart.

It was to effect this that Christ came into the earth. It is not enough that we be freed from the guilt of sin,--from past transgressions,--but we must be freed from the love of sin.

The petition "do not lead us into temptation" must be understood as meaning, "'Do not, O Lord, suffer us to be overcome when assailed by temptation.' Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation. There is a difference between being tempted, and entering into temptation." [7]

I pray that this brief introduction to the Lord's Prayer has given you an appetite for the entire study and the "hands on" experience of seeing the simple, yet profound dynamic of the 1888 message as it takes from the Word of God what was intended by the Word of God. We speak about God's hearing us, when the question really is whether or not we hear God.

Some additional interesting quotations from Waggoner's study on prayer:

"Our asking is not to make Him willing to give, but to show our willingness to receive."

"True prayer is simply the thankful acceptance of God's free gifts."

"God does not weary us by keeping us waiting--this is why we can always pray and not faint."

--Daniel Peters


The Lord' Prayer

Or you can enter this web address directly:


[1] Ellet J. Waggoner, The Signs of the Times, Feb. 24, 1887, and March 3, 1887.
[2] Ibid., March 10, 1887.
[3] Ibid., March 24, 1887.
[4] Ibid., March 31, 1887.
[5] Ibid., May 5, 1887.
[6] Ibid., May 19, 1887.
[7] Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 308.

Raul Diaz

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lesson 6: Women in the Ministry of Jesus

Lesson 6: Women in the Ministry of Jesus

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Luke

Lesson 6: Women in the Ministry of Jesus

The great privilege of preaching the gospel has been given to men and women. It is not appropriate for this article to enter the debate currently happening in our church regarding the ordination of women, however it is clear from even a superficial study of Jesus' interaction with people in His earthly ministry that He intended that both genders are given the great commission to spread the gospel.

The compassion God has for women began early. Instead of cursing Eve, and therefore all women, God promised her progeny the privilege of giving birth to the Savior (Gen. 3:15). Throughout the Old Testament women are used by God for various tasks. Special mention is given to the mothers of John the Baptist and his cousin, Jesus. During His ministry, Jesus healed, helped, and gave attention to women, even when it was against human conventions of the day. He had pity on women who were impoverished, such as when He commended the widow with her mite, the widow whose son died, and probably many others. He associated with wealthy women like Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. He spoke with the Samarian women at Jacob's well, breaking several social barriers of the day. He didn't condemn the woman caught in adultery, but established that she was not the only sinner in the situation when He listed the sins of the men who entrapped her.

The 1888 message teaches that in seeking us, Christ came all the way to where we are, taking upon Himself "the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh." Thus He is a Savior "nigh at hand, not afar off." He "is the Savior of all men," even "the chief of sinners." These biblical examples testify to Christ's incarnation and caring concern for individuals.

There was one woman who was singled out to spread the gospel in a very unique way. Her background was the worst a woman could have in those times. The Bible describes her as an "immoral woman." Her name was Mary, of Magdala. Mary was the sister of Lazarus and Martha and they lived in a home in Bethany. It is safe to assume that the family was relatively well off, since poor people didn't have the money to own tombs, like the one Lazarus had been buried in. They also had an apparently close connection to Simon the Pharisee (Mark 14:3) whom Jesus had healed of leprosy. Mark and Luke tell us the dinner was at Simon's house. Simon evidently trusted Martha enough to have her coordinate serving the refreshments.

We are told Mary was present, but she would not have been allowed to eat with the men. Mary's exact relationship with Simon is not told, but he knew that she was a "sinner" or an immoral woman, which was probably a secret (Luke 7:39). By telling of Simon's secret knowledge, the Bible supports the statement that "Simon had led into sin the woman he now despised. She had been deeply wronged by him" (The Desire of Ages, p. 566). The hypocrisy of Simon and his colleagues has become synonymous with the word Pharisee. Complacent that his involvement was not known, Simon felt free to condemn Mary, and question the discernment of Christ.

When Mary responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to use the costly ointment she had saved so long to purchase, she demonstrated that of all those who had so closely followed Jesus, only she recognized that He was to die and be buried. Because Mary was willing to perform this act of loving sacrifice and belief before Jesus' death, she was privileged to show the only human support Christ received during his ordeal in Gethsemane and on the cross. "And as He went down into the darkness of His great trial, He carried with Him the memory of that deed, an earnest of the love that would be His from His redeemed ones forever" (ibid., p. 560). Once they understood the significance of Mary's act, how many times did the disciples wish they had joined in both her sacrifice and actions?

Beautiful as this story is, it does not end there. Like all of us, Simon did not truly understand his own heart. The Holy Spirit flashed into the mind of Jesus a story that could save Simon from himself, and save us too if we can grasp the point. It responds to all of our self-congratulatory musing regarding our good works. The story is simple. "A certain moneylender had two debtors; one owed fine hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him more?" (Luke 7:41-42, NASB). After further explaining his story to Simon, Jesus speaks the formula that Simon desperately needed to learn, and that God's "lukewarm" people are perishing to understand today if they don't want to remain lukewarm for another century or more: "For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much, but he who is forgiven little, loves little" (Luke 7:47).

Why Do We Write About Mary Magdalene?

1. As a photographic print resembles its negative, so her strange act resembled His great sacrifice. Jesus had to defend her, for in doing so He was defending Himself, His cross.

2. She had paid an enormous price for that alabaster flask of precious ointment (300 silver coins, the wage of a working man for a year). Jesus paid an enormous price to redeem us.

3. What Mary did was wildly extravagant--"wasting" an entire flask of "very precious" ointment when only a teaspoonful was needed; so what Jesus did was equally (more so!) extravagant--shedding His blood sufficient to save an entire world when only a handful of people will respond.

4. Mary's motive was totally non-selfish; she had no thought of being praised. All she wanted to do was say, "Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul!" So Jesus' motive was purely and simply love for lost people, no acquisitive purpose mixed in to becloud that pure flame of devotion for us. Mary was unconsciously reflecting the motives of Jesus. Her perceptions, her discernment, were more sensitive than that of any of the Twelve disciples.

5. The Bible singles her out as a "sinner," meaning, an outstanding one (Luke 7:37); she was "forgiven much," not little. She knew it, realized it; therefore her now-converted sinful heart could be stretched outsize to "love much" (vs. 47). Hence her amazing deed, the most beautiful ever performed by any repentant sinner in history.

6. Jesus therefore saw in her an example, a "prototype," a demonstration, of what His agape-love could and would eventually produce in "144,000" people.

7. Her act of love in no way contributed to her salvation, which was already accomplished.

Thus Jesus defined the clearest demonstration of what the word faith means: "Go in peace," He said; "Your faith has saved you" (vs. 50). Jesus nailed down for all time to come a clear definition of faith: a heart-appreciation of what He has done for us in saving us from hell itself. When faith is so understood, it can do nothing else than "work" (Gal. 5:6).

Just before His death, Jesus said that the Bible truth of the story of the authentic Mary Magdalene must be told "wherever the gospel is preached" (Mark 14:9). It's a part of the third angel's message in verity!

--Arlene Hill

[This writer is indebted to Robert J. Wieland and his writings, especially his book, Mary Magdalene: The Bible Story, for these concepts.]

Note: This story of Mary Magdalene is found in all four gospels: Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8.

Raul Diaz