“What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32)

Jesus said this to two blind men who sitting by the roadside as he was walking with a procession down the road:
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. "Lord," they answered, "we want our sight." Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. (Matt. 20:30)

Was Jesus the son of David?

According to this translation, the blind men greeted Jesus as "Lord, Son of David." Really?

The Greek phrase υἱὸς Δαυίδ is typically translated to "son of David" in most versions of the Bible. But was Jesus really the son of David? Was David, who was born about 9 centuries before Jesus was born, really Jesus' father? How could that be so?

Or do they mean that Jesus was a part of the family genealogy of David?

Two books of the New Testament (Luke and Matthew) illustrate two yet different genealogies that theoretically connect David to Joseph. However, Joseph was Jesus' adoptive father. So Jesus was not actually the physical son of David, or even physically related to David by the seed of the father of his physical body.

Furthermore, the modern texts of the New Testament indicate that Mary was a virgin. This means what is termed the immaculate conception - meaning that Jesus didn't have a physical father at all.

If these points are true - how could Jesus be the "son of David"?

Could 'son of David' be a mistranslation?

What is the connection between Jesus and David then?

The Greek word υἱὸς can mean either "son" in the context of a physical family, or it can mean "one who follows or is dependent upon another," according to the Greek lexicon. This latter translation translates to being a follower, a pupil, or given the devotional context, a servant of that person.

In other words, the more appropriate translation of υἱὸς Δαυίδ is that Jesus was a follower of David, a student of David, or a servant of David within the devotional context.

Jesus was not the physical offspring of David. Rather, he was in line with the teachings of David, and was a follower of David's teachings. We know this because Jesus often quoted David. Jesus even quoted David during his last moments on the cross.

The original intent of the genealogy in Matthew and Luke was not to indicate the relationship of the physical body - though it has been interpreted as such. They were originally intended to indicate the succession of the teachings of David.

For thousands of years, and among ancient Judaism, the teachings of love for God had been passed down personally from teacher to student. Once taught by a teacher (or prophet), the devoted student may be empowered to become the teacher (or prophet), and pass the teachings on.

In some but not all instances, the student was also the physical son of the teacher. For example, Jacob and Joseph. But then there was Moses and Joshua, and Samuel and David. And Eli and Samuel. And Abraham and Lot. And Melchizedek and Abraham. These and other instances where the student was not the son of the teacher are apparent in the Old Testament.

The reason why genealogy has been highlighted among the translations of the Bible is rooted in the penchant among some in the early institutional temples (which Jesus argued against) to establish the notion of there being some sort of "chosen people" within this family heritage. This notion is not only untrue historically. It also bears witness against the very nature of the teachings of the Prophets, which was that any person could devote their life to the Supreme Being.

For example, we know, as was illustrated throughout the Books of the Old Testament, that being the physical son of a prophet did not necessarily give the son rights to also be one of God's prophets or chosen ones. The son must still have submitted himself to God as his teacher (and sometimes father) had. This is illustrated by the many instances where one of a prophet's sons did not submit to God (Esau versus Jacob, for example) and thus were not included in the "inheritance."

Why did Jesus ask what they wanted?

Jesus’ words are not the words of someone in charge. Jesus did not greet the blind men as though he were some sort of ruler or master. He spoke to them humbly, as he cared for that person's welfare: “What do you want me to do for you?”

This is a statement of someone who is in the service of another.

The concept that Jesus was a servant of God is supported by Jesus himself. In many instances, such a position was translated into the word "son" or "sons" when Jesus was referring to "servant."
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons [servants] of God. (Matt. 5:9)
"For they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons [servants] of God, being sons [servants] of the resurrection." (Luke 20:36 RSV)
Jesus also uses the word υἱὸς to refer to "servant" or "devotee" elsewhere:
"while the sons [servants] of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." (Matt. 8:12 RSV)
"Can the sons [servants] of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then will they fast." (Matt. 9:15 ASV)
In all of these statements, we find the Greek word υἱός being used by Jesus, and none of them refer to a physical offspring. They all refer to people devoted in some way, to either God and the resurrection, "the kingdom," or to the bridechamber (Matt. 9:15 has also thus been translated to "attendants of the bridegroom" (NAV)).

To this we add other statements from the and there are multiple references to "sons of God" among the English Bible translations:
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them the sons [servants] of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. (Genesis 6:2)

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons [servants] of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4)

Now there was a day when the sons [servants] of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. (Job 1:6)

Again there was a day when the sons [servants] of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. (Job 2:1)

When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons [servants] of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7)

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [servants] of God." (Matt. 6:9)

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons [servants] of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12)

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons [servants] of God. (Romans 8:14)

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons [servants] of God. (Romans 8:19)
These all point to "sons of God" being used to describe devoted servants of God.

Other statements in the Bible confirm this interpretation:
…the sons [servants] of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. (Genesis 6:2)

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons [servants] of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4)

Could Jesus be considered the servant of David?

This of course, is also consistent with the translation of υἱὸς to "loving servant" rather than "son." In various verses, υἱὸς is used in connection with God (υἱός τοῦ θεοῦ), with David (υἱός τοῦ Δαυίδ) and with all of humanity (υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου). (τοῦ means "of"). So rather than Jesus being the son of everything:
-the son of David
-the son of God
-the son of man

Jesus actually saw himself (and others saw him) as their loving servant:
-the servant (or devoted follower) of David
-the servant (or devoted follower) of God
-the servant of humanity

In the context of Jesus, we must add that the term υἱός τοῦ θεοῦ may be better translated to "Representative of God." This was also pointed out in Thayer's lexicon, "the Jews called the Messiah o vios tov Oeov pre-eminently, as the supreme representative of God."

Jesus was not simply pretending to be a servant. He sincerely felt that he was a servant of others and God. He took the lowest position. Remember, for example, when Jesus washed his disciples' feet. Jesus was not assuming the position of boss or master. He saw himself as a loving servant of God and humanity. And this is why he said to the blind men: "What do you want me to do for you?"

This means that Jesus is not God. He is the loving servant and representative of God. Like any loving servant, Jesus has a oneness with God because he is doing God's will. This means they are one in will. Thus Jesus spoke words from God. He represented God and did God's will. This means that Jesus was His exalted representative and loving servant.

“Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will ...” (Matthew 21:2-3)

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away." (Matthew 21:1-3)

Who is 'the Lord' that Jesus refers to?

Most assume that Jesus was referring to himself when he said “the Lord.” And certainly, many of Jesus' followers did greet Jesus as “the Lord.

But would Jesus have referred to himself in that manner? Would he have instructed his disciples to refer to him as “the Lord.”?

This would be inconsistent with Jesus’ other activities and statements. Jesus never proclaimed to being “the Lord.”. He referred to God with the term "Lord":
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:10)

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’" (Mark 12:30)

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18)

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Luke 10:2)
Yes, we do find instances where followers of Jesus referred to Jesus as "Lord." But these were Jesus' followers. Not Jesus. Jesus never referred to himself as Lord.

So we find there is no evidence that Jesus would have instructed his followers to refer to himself as "the Lord." Yet he knew that because he was doing the work of God, he could tell them that the donkey was for "the Lord." This is because Jesus saw himself as the servant of the Lord God.

Did Jesus see himself as the servant of God?

Multiple times, Jesus proclaimed himself to be a loving servant (υἱός) of “the Lord” God. He also prayed to the Lord God asking to do God's will, and taught that we should do God's will:
“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matt. 26:42)

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)

For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:49-50)

"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
Thus God was ultimately Jesus' Lord, as God is Lord to every prophet in the Old Testament, and Lord to each of us.

This it would be correct to interpret that Jesus was going to be using the donkey to serve his Lord God; and those he instructed to get the donkey were also serving God by following Jesus' instructions.

Why is this important? It is important because this is how the loving servant of God engages his students in the service of God.

Is God a person?

This is also important because the Supreme Being is not some vague force or void. God is a Person. Only a person can have a will, and be served and pleased. A vague force or cloud cannot have a will. A vague force or cloud cannot be pleased with someone's service.

Jesus taught and showed with his life that God is a Person we can love and serve, and care for. God is a lovable, beautiful and compassionate Person. He is the Perfect Person we are continuously looking for. He is the Person who will never abuse us or take us for granted.

In addition, the Supreme Being is the Person we can always count on. He is the Person we are looking for when we expect others to be good. He is the Person we are looking for when we are disappointed in others. He is the Person we are looking for when we are heart-broken by a former girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse. He is the Person we are looking for when we seek the admiration and respect from others. He is the Person we are looking for when we are lonely.

What does 'comes in the name of the Lord' mean?

It is notable to mention also that as Jesus went through the streets of Jerusalem, his followers were shouting:
The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9)
In all four Gospels we find that Jesus' followers referred to God as "Lord" as they praised Jesus:
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 23:39, Mark 11:9, Luke 12:35, John 12:13)
Yes this indicates that 'Lord' in this context is referring to God. But this praise also indicates that Jesus' followers recognized that one of Jesus’ central missions was to teach the power of the Name of God. Otherwise, why would people be shouting that verse drawn from David's Psalm 118?
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. (Psalm 118:26)
Jesus also taught the importance of glorifying God's Holy Names:
“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name ... ' " (Matthew 6:9)
And consider this text about Jesus and his disciples:
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:30)
So we know from this that Jesus, regularly led his students in singing hymns. And what is a hymn? A hymn is the praising of God and His Holy Names, as exemplified by David's Psalms:
“Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise His Holy Name.” (Psalms 97:12)
“In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His Holy Name.” (Psalms 33:21) 

“It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer’ ...'" (Matthew 21:13)

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it 'a den of robbers.'" (Matt 21:12-13)

Why did Jesus overturn the tables?

Jesus goes to Jerusalem and enters a temple court, where he saw many people conducting a marketplace on the temple grounds, where they were selling everything from sheep and cattle to doves. He looks at the marketplace and begins turning over the tables.

Jesus did not condone having a market and doing business in a place that was supposed to be a place for worshiping God.

In the Book of John it describes that Jesus also ‘made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here!...”’ (John 2:15-16)

Jesus was obviously upset. To drive out people and overturn tables and benches displays an intensity that contrasts with the notion of being a peacemaker, or turning the other cheek, or not defending himself being accused falsely.

Jesus was angry.

Why was Jesus so angry?

The anger that Jesus displayed arose out of his love for God.

Jesus cared about how people were treating his Beloved's place of worship. Instead of honoring God and focusing on God within His temple, these people were using the temple for their own purposes.

They were using the temple in order to become wealthier. They could have easily set up their marketplace outside of the temple grounds. Instead, they used the temple grounds because this was a place that most of the people went to worship.

They were using the temple grounds to get more proximity to the people in order to make more money. Instead of using the temple for the purpose it was built for - to worship God - they were abusing the temple for their own purposes.

This made Jesus angry because he loved God. Just as someone would be upset if someone was abusing their wife or friend, Jesus was upset because they were abusing the temple - thus abusing God.

What did Jesus mean by 'a house of prayer'?

Jesus is quoting from two elements within the scriptures:
[This is what the Lord says,] “these I will bring to My holy mountain and give them joy in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7)
“Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 7:11)
These statements are both spoken by God directly or through His representative. Jesus was obviously very educated in the scriptures, as he was able to draw from two different books of scripture at the same time - drawing upon statements that God made about His temple of worship.

What does this say about Jesus?

Jesus' statement also illustrates how focused Jesus was on the Supreme Being. He was not simply quoting passages from scripture to look good in front of a congregation. He was focused upon the words of God and their application towards actions that are pleasing to the Supreme Being.

Jesus' actions also illustrated his devotion to a personal God. He knew what pleases God and displeases God. He knew that God is personally displeased when we utilize His place of worship for other purposes other than to honor and worship Him. Why?

Because God knows that if we re-establish our relationship with Him, we will be happy. It's all about love.

What about having markets and bazaars on church grounds today?

This event and its application is still important today. So many churches, temples, mosques and synagogues throughout the organized religions of the world are being used as places to hold political assemblies, bazaars, flea markets, sporting events and so many other activities. Is this the same thing?

It is the same thing. Using a place of worship in order to make money or otherwise promote concerns outside of worshipping God would be an abuse of that place of worship.

In these cases, once again the place of worship is being used because is it a well-recognized center for people to come. They normally come to worship there. So using it for another purpose would effectively be using people's place of worship to promote an outside concern.

Thus, using God's place of worship for such activities was condemned by Jesus then, and now.

Aren't they good gathering places?

Many will say that churches, temples, synagogues or mosques are good gathering places because they bring people together. But is this the intended purpose of the church, temple, mosque or synagogue?

As we can see clearly by God's statements in Isaiah and Jeremiah, no.

The purpose of these buildings is to foster our remembrance and our dedication to the Supreme Being. Traditionally, they were also built with altars to God, in order to make offerings to God.

To utilize the buildings and grounds for any other purpose is to offend God and desecrate their very purpose.

Places of worship are meant to be used solely to focus our hearts and minds upon our Soul Mate the Supreme Being: To sing God's Names, pray to God, make offerings to God and teach about God. Jesus himself makes this point very clear here, and this is consistent with his primary instruction:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

“Yes, have you ever read, ‘From the lips of children ...’" (Matthew 21:16)

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant. "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, " 'From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise'?" (Matthew 21:16)

Was this about prophecy?

Some have interpreted that Jesus quoted this phrase from one of David's Psalms because Jesus was trying to indicate that David's Psalm was prophesying about Jesus.

This is simply a stretch of the imagination by those who seek to support their sectarian motives to exclude others from being able to approach God.

What Jesus was illustrating, is that while the crowds were praising Jesus as the representative of David. Jesus was not the son of David as has been inappropriately translated from the Greek word υἱός.

In this context, this Greek word translates to, "one who depends on another or is his follower."

In other words, Jesus was a follower of David. This is why he often quoted David's Psalms in his preaching.

In other words, they were proclaiming Jesus to be teacher within David’s teaching lineage - and the focus of David’s teachings was the praise of God, as he illustrated throughout the Psalms.

Is Jesus referring to one of David's Psalms here?

Let’s read the full context of the Psalm of David that Jesus is referring to in his statement above:
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise because of Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth! (Psalms 8)
The key phrase they use to interpret that David is discussing Jesus is:
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?

Was David referring to himself as the 'son of man'?

Yes. David referred to himself as the "son of man" in these verses. In fact, many other statements in the Bible refer to different people outside of Jesus as "son of man." Consider these verses:
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

"how much less man, who is but a maggot — a son of man, who is only a worm!" (Job 25:6)

He [God] said to me, "son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you." (Ezekiel 2:1)

He [God] said: "son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. (Exe. 2:3)
(God referred to Ezekiel as the servant of humanity ("son of man") continuously, as evidenced by over 80 verses in Ezekiel).
As He came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. "son of man," He said to me, "understand that the vision concerns the time of the end." (Daniel 8:17)
So here we can see that Daniel was also referred to as a "son of man" (servant of humanity), as was Ezekiel, Job and David - and of course, Jesus.

(Note that these are from NIV 1984. In 2011, NIV editors edited out "son of man" from many of these verses. These "son of man" translations still exist in most other Bible versions.)

Is "son of man" a mistranslation?

In Hebrew, "son of man" is being translated from the phrase, בֶּן־אָדָם - which breaks down into בֵּן (ben) and אָדָם ('adam). The word בֵּן (ben) can mean "son" but also "a member of a guild, order, class" according to the lexicon. And אָדָם ('adam) refers to "man" or "mankind" or humanity."

When translated from the Greek - as spoken by Jesus regarding himself - the phrase is υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. The word υἱὸς means "son" or "devoted follower" or "loving servant" while τοῦ means "of" and ἀνθρώπου means "man" or "mankind" or "humanity."

Thus we find the translation to "son of man" actually has no real meaning - as every male is a son of a man and thus has no reference to prophets such as David, Job, Daniel and Ezekiel, nor to Jesus - we find the more appropriate translation of both the Hebrew and the Greek phrases to be: "servant of humanity"

As truly these prophets as well as Jesus were in a position where they were serving all of humanity by giving others knowledge of the Supreme Being.

And this is the ultimate service to humanity because we are lost without the Supreme Being. Our life has no meaning without our relationship with God.

In other words, Jesus was not the only servant of humanity ("son of man"). A servant of humanity is someone who is sent by God (as in Ezekiel) to save people by bringing them home to God.

The phrase also indicates humility - just as the phrase "civil servant" indicates a government employee who considers himself a servant of the people.

Jesus illustrated his position as a servant to others in his washing the feet of his disciples. He also said specifically:
“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
Certainly Jesus included himself in this instruction, as he considered himself to be υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου - servant of humanity.

The bottom line is that the meaning of David's 8th Psalm was not to predict Jesus' coming as misinterpreted by ecclesiastical sectarian teachers. It was clearly intended to praise God and give thanks to the Supreme Being.

With ‘From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise" David is saying (and Jesus is referring to this) that God deserves praise from even the children - let alone everyone else.

David is saying that he is in awe of God David is amazed that God would care about even the most humble of men such as himself, relatively insignificant compared to the gigantic universe. David then goes on to discuss man’s position on the earth - that man rules over the flocks and herds and so many other animals. This is confirmed in Genesis:
“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)
Remember that according to these ecclesiastical translations and interpretations, Jesus is being referred to as the “son of David” and the “son of God,” as well as the “son of man.” How is Jesus the “son” of all these at the same time?

Factually, he was the son (physical male offspring) of none of them. Even with regard to David, Jesus' genealogy only established a supposed family tie (although given differently in Matthew and Luke) with Joseph, who was according to the texts, Jesus' adoptive father and not physical father. So if we are to accept that Mary was a virgin or at least Jesus was not Joseph's son, then Jesus could neither be David's physical son - or even great, great.... grandson according to the texts.

God wants us to return to Him. He knows that we will be happy only when we are back in His loving arms. So He calls to us from within our hearts. He sends His loving servants to try to convince us to come home. He calls us from within the scriptures. All of these activities are because loving God is not an empty phrase. Loving God means returning to our loving relationship with our Best Friend and Soul Mate - the Supreme Being. This is the consistent teaching of all the prophets as evidenced by Jesus' and Moses' very clear instruction:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38 and Deut 6:5)

“May you never bear fruit again.” (Matthew 21:19)

Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered. (Matthew 21:18-19)

Was the fig tree alive?

Since Jesus was communicating directly to the tree, we know that Jesus accepted that the tree was alive, and contained an individual who could be communicated to.

It also means the tree had some capacity to control its production of figs. In this case, we see that Jesus understood the tree was not producing figs. Jesus chastised the tree for this.

We must accept this conclusion unless we want to propose that Jesus was irrational or crazy. Would he have been speaking to someone who was not there, and speaking as if the tree could control its production of figs?

But since Jesus was addressing the tree directly, and not happy the tree did not produce figs, we know Jesus accepted that the tree contained consciousness - and thus a living spirit.

We can know by extension that every living organism in the physical world must be inhabited and operated by some sort of spirit.

What is the difference between a tree and a human?

Subsequently, each living being is at a particular state of spiritual evolution. After each physical body dies, the spiritual individual will move on according to its consciousness and past activities.

This teaching spans the ancient teachings of the Prophets and Jesus alike. This teaching was also common among early Christian fathers as illustrated by Origen as we'll discuss below.

If the spirit or soul does not have successive incarnations, then we find - as did the Christian fathers - a significant cruelty apparent in the physical world. That is, children who are born into situations of suffering. Why would some people be born into lives of luxury and wealth while others are born into suffering and squalor? Is that fair? If we lived only one life, that would mean there is no justice or fairness in this world.

That would also mean that either God is cruel, or God doesn't exist and it is all an accident. This of course is the premise of many who propose atheistic opinions.

That said, certainly there is a great difference between a tree and a human. The human form of life is a physical form of higher consciousness. It is the form from which the spirit-person can utilize to think rationally and grow spiritually. Namely, a person in the human form can have a change of heart. We can decide to abandon the path of self-centeredness and try to develop our spiritual connection with God.

But what about those who do not want to develop spiritually? What about those who condemn the existence of God during their human lifetimes?

And what about those who choose to live out lives of anger and violence - not much different than animals?

In fact, we find many people who will say they envy the life of a dog. Some even say they wish they could come back as a dog. Do these souls get their chance to live in the bodies of dogs, cats or other forms, and thus get to experience the ignorance of spiritual values that some seek while in human form?

Do souls transmigrate?

Despite many books of scripture being banned and burned in the centuries after Jesus, and scriptures being purged of verses or translations that contradicted the prevailing sectarian institutions, beginning with the Roman Catholic Church, there are still a few verses left in the Bible that confirm the fact that Jesus indeed taught the transmigration of the spirit-person (or soul) - in addition to the implication of Jesus' discussion with the fig tree here:

For example, we find that Jesus’ disciples asked him this question about a blind man they came upon:
"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:1)
Let’s consider the question carefully. Why did Jesus’ disciples ask this question? First we should consider that multiple disciples asked this question and not just one ‘rogue’ disciple. This means that it was a question that arose from an understanding between Jesus and his disciples from Jesus’ teachings.

In other words, it was assumed that before the man was born, he had the ability to sin. In other to have the ability to sin, the man must have had a previous physical body.

Why? Because as Jesus taught previously, sinning was an action brought upon by the flesh. In other words, the person must have had a prior physical body in order to have sinned before he was born.

Note also that Jesus did not ridicule or criticize this question. He took it in stride. He did not say, “what a preposterous question.” What he said was:
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me.” (John 9:2)
Because Jesus accepted that the man could have sinned, he admitted that the man must have lived prior to his being born into that body. While he is saying that the activities of his previous life did not cause his blindness, Jesus is acknowledging that they could have.  Jesus in fact is saying that there was another purpose to his blindness other than as a consequence of his previous activities—previous to being born blind.

Jesus also admitted that the spirit-person of John the Baptist had reincarnated from Elijah:
The disciples asked him, "Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?" Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:10-13)
We also see that Jesus accepted the fact that a demoniac spirit-person could occupy (or possess) the body of another. Jesus drove out several demons who possessed the bodies of others. Jesus even had a discussion with a couple of demoniac spirit-persons who were occupying the bodies of two men. At the demons' request, Jesus ordered them to transmigrate from the bodies of the two possessed men into the bodies of pigs (Matt. 8:31-32). 

Was transmigration taught in early Christianity?

This teaching of transmigration was actually taught in the early Christian church. We find many remnants of this teaching among the early fathers of the Christian Church, including Origen Adamantius, St. Clement, Plotinus, and St. Augustine.

Origen, for example, was considered the Church’s first great theologian. He was approved by the Pope and Bishop Demetrius of Alexandra. He was by far one of the most productive and prolific teachers of the second and third centuries. He was so respected for his knowledge and interpretations of scripture that he was at one time given eight scribes to write his directions.

Origen had thousands of students, and his school was by far the largest Christian school in Alexandria. While much of Origen's writings were later destroyed, we still find clear evidence in remnants of his statements that he supported transmigration:
"Or is it not more in conformity with reason, that every soul, for certain mysterious reasons  is introduced into a body, and introduced according to its deserts and former actions? It is probable, therefore, that this soul also, which conferred more benefit by its former residence in the flesh than that of many men (to avoid prejudice, I do not say "all"), stood in need of a body not only superior to others, but invested with all excellent qualities." (Against Celsus, I.32)
Following the Councils of Nicene (325 AD and later) and the subsequent enforcement of the Roman Catholic Church teachings by the Roman empire, the Roman-ruled Church banned Origen's teachings. And his some 6,000 writings - once revered by many devoted Christians - were destroyed.

Is there scientific evidence for transmigration?

We also find there is scientific evidence for transmigration. A number of scientific studies by respected medical researchers over the past four decades in Clinical Death and Near Death Experiences (NDE) has shown that the living individual separates from the body at the time of death.

Tens of thousands of patients have confirmed that the living being leaves and rises above the body at the time of death, and is able to observe activities in the hospital that could have otherwise not been seen while the patient's body lay unconscious on the bed.

The accuracy of these out of body NDEs has been verified thousands of times by cases studied by teams of researchers led by Raymond Moody, M.D., Kenneth Ring, Ph.D., Michael Sabom, M.D. and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. Each of these doctors and researchers led their own studies that independently confirmed the out of body NDE experience.

The reality that we can take on another body after death has been scientifically confirmed by a vast amount of research performed over the past twenty years by eminent scientists. Research by Dr. Ian Stevenson, a medical doctor and professor of research at the University of Virginia, Department of Psychiatric Medicine illustrated that a child can often recall their previous lifetime with exquisite detail.

Dr. Sevenson's research documented hundreds of subjects who detailed previous lifetimes as historical persons, describing events with a clarity and experience only possible from having lived personally in that situation. Dr. Stevenson and other scientists meticulously corroborated the accuracy of these details, and gradually developed a mountain of practical evidence for the transmigration of the self.

Though undoubtedly controversial, the research has been thoroughly peer-reviewed and corroborated. Over thirty scientific books and hundreds of scientific papers have been written to document studies by hypnotherapists, many of whom are M.D.s and/or licensed psychiatrists. Dr. Stevenson’s research spanned over thirty-seven years, and documented hundreds of cases of previous life recognition by children who remembered their past lives. His corroborated research indicated that past life recollection fades by about age seven.

Before that age, children will often speak spontaneously about their previous lives as historical individuals, recalling historical details decades old and otherwise unknowable. Dr. Stevenson and his various associates meticulously documented these recollections along with the confirmations of their historical accuracy. Dr. Stevenson wrote several books on the subject, presenting the evidence in a clinically rigorous and scientific manner (Stevenson 1997; Tucker 2005).

A number of other scientists have confirmed Dr. Stevenson's work, by regressing patients into verifiable past lives using hypnosis, and subsequently confirming the accuracy of the past life. These doctors have included Dr. Helen Wambach (1978), Dr. Morris Netheron (1978), Dr. Edit Fiore (1978), Dr. Bruce Goldberg (1982), Dr. Joel Whitton (1986), Dr. Brian Weiss (1988), Dr. Christopher Bache (1994), Dr. Winafred Lucas (1993), Dr. Marge Rieder (1995; 1999) along with a number of others.

Is transmigration of the soul theological?

Eventually, the Church banned all discussion of the soul’s transmigration. But this wasn't because it is inconsistent with the existence of God.

Why did they ban it? Because this teaching threatened the exclusivity and power of the Church. It took away the primary weapon of power: The threat of going to hell.

In other words, transmigration gives the living being a possible second chance if we fail in this lifetime to perfect our relationship with God.

It also gave the living being freedom of choice. The emperors that sought to control the Church, and those who ruled the Church, saw this teaching as undermining the Church’s power. They didn't like freedom of choice. In other words, the Church utilized fear as its best recruiting tactic.

Furthermore, transmigration illustrates that God is fair. Many ask the Christian church why, if God is so loving, are people born into suffering? Why are children born with AIDS or into starvation? The answer is that the individual born into that body has some specific lessons to learn, based on their prior activities and consciousness. The physical body is simply a vehicle for learning.

It is like an automobile. The driver can get out of the car when it breaks down. While the car might not run well, or might break down, the driver is unaffected (outside of the driver's learning experience). The driver can simply open the car door and walk away. In the same way, the bodies we wear are temporary vehicles. They are not us. We get a particular type of physical body to operate according to our consciousness and our past behavior. The body is only temporary. It decomposes after we leave it.

Each body is designed to impart a collection of lessons upon the spiritual individual operating it. These lessons are determined by what we need to learn. It might be compared to a computer software program that creates a virtual identity for the operator so the operator can go through the learning program. This "machinery" of the physical world is perfect. And it is fair. The body we get is determined by our past activities and consciousness.

The body also allows us to forget God. This takes place as we mistakenly identify with our temporary physical body. We are confusing ourselves - an eternal spiritual child of God - with a temporary vehicle or vessel: the physical body.

This is why Paul, reflecting the teachings of Jesus, stated:
"I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (1 Cor 15:50)
"Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.... So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." (2 Cor 5:6 and 5:9) 

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt ..." (Matthew 21:21-22)

When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked. Jesus replied, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." (Matt. 21:21-22)

What was done to the fig tree?

This statement follows the event observed by Jesus’ disciples, where he approached a fig tree and it had no figs, and he condemned the fig tree, saying:
“May you never bear fruit again.” (Matthew 21:19)
The tree withered immediately, and Jesus’ disciples were amazed at how fast the tree withered - prompting Jesus to say the above.

Does this mean we should ask God for anything we want?

The big point of Jesus’ statement, of course, is faith. “If you believe….” Many people and even some teachers among sectarian organizations interpret this to mean that we can become rich and powerful by asking God to get us whatever we want. All we have to do is believe, and then ask for stuff, and we will then have all the power, money and fame we want, and we’ll be happy. Right?

Actually, faith and belief in the omniscience of God is the opposite of considering God our servant - that we can just ask God to give us whatever we want, and as long as we believe He will do it, He'll go get it done for us.

Such a mentality is putting ourselves as omniscient. It is the belief that everything revolves around us, and God is subservient to us.

The situation is precisely the opposite. Everything revolves around God, and we are God's (now rebellious) servants.

What is belief in God?

To “believe” in God is to recognize God’s position as the Owner of everything and as the Supreme Enjoyer of everything. It is recognizing God as our Creator, and Protector. Having “faith” is trusting that everything that happens, happens by the sanction of God. "Faith" is also nondifferent from 'trust.' In other words, "faith" is trusting in God

Jesus' last sentence confirms this. Jesus says we will receive what we ask in prayer. The word “prayer” is associated with observing God’s omniscience and our reliance upon Him. Prayer is performed with humility and praise. Prayer is not an order. An order is given to an inferior party. A prayer is given to a superior person by an inferior person.

Furthermore, prayer also means that just because we ask something of God doesn't mean that He has to do that which we ask. It is God who chooses. Not us. Prayer is not an assumption. It is a submission.

If we are actually praying to God, we will not be asking Him to do something for our own enjoyment. Prayer is not asking God to make sure our football team wins. Prayer is not asking that we get some money to buy a fancy car. That is not a prayer: it might be craftily worded to sound like a prayer, but it is an order nevertheless.

A real prayer might ask God to help us come to know Him and love Him. A real prayer to God might ask Him to give us the means to please Him and do His will. A real prayer might ask God to help another person we feel for. But these prayer requests are never made with the assumption that God is our servant and He has to do what we ask of Him.

This is why Jesus says, "If you believe..." first. Believing in God means trusting that God has complete control, and whatever He does, He does for everyone's benefit, because God loves every one of us. In other words, believing in God isn't simply understanding that God exists: It is trusting that God is our Best Friend and our Benefactor. It is trusting that God cares for us and truly loves us. That is the belief that Jesus is asking of us. It is trust, and trust is a facet of love.

In other words, faith means to take shelter in God.

Does God answer all prayers?

Yes, but not always in the ways we want.

The reason God will often comply with a special prayer from one of His humble servants is because there is a loving relationship there. If they are truly trusting in God and taking shelter in God, they will not be asking God for frivolous things.

Such a person will not be taking prayer requests with a strategy to collect donations either. They will not be seeing God as his or her servant. In this mood, however, a person may request something to help another person. God, in His own time and in His own way, may comply with that request on behalf of His humble servant. This is based upon a loving service relationship, and Jesus is encouraging his students to develop this sort of relationship with God.

Jesus is also showing his disciples that the power to perform miracles was not coming from Jesus. They were coming from God, at Jesus' prayerful request. But we can see too, that Jesus was asking God to do things that were not meant to benefit Jesus: They were things that benefited others and brought others closer to God. Even with the fig tree, we see that Jesus utilized this as a teaching moment to praise God and teach others to depend on (trust) God.

The trap here is that if someone is thinking that they are going to test this statement by Jesus and ask that a mountain be thrown into the sea, this would not comply with Jesus' instruction. Jesus says that "if you have faith and do not doubt." So if one is praying for something as a test, they are already doubting. They already don't have faith.

If they have any doubt, there is no relationship. Therefore, a person who trusts God and has no doubts in His abilities will not be asking God to throw a mountain into the sea just to see if it will happen. Furthermore, they will not be asking for frivolous things or things for their own enjoyment. Why?

Because this consciousness of having faith in God and trusting in God is inseparable from the consciousness of being God's servant.

“I will also ask you one question. If you answer me ...” (Matthew 21:24-25)

Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you this authority?" Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?" They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?'" (Matthew 21:24-25)

What do they mean by 'authority'?

This question asked by Jesus was to answer the institutional temple chief priests and elders, who saw Jesus teaching in the temple courts. They asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things?”

They were questioning whether Jesus had the authority to stand on temple grounds and teach the people. Why?

Because they had doubts. Thus the question Jesus asks is specific to his authority.

This indicates that Jesus is pragmatically answering the questions of these doubters. He isn't threatening them or condemning them for asking the question.

In other words, Jesus is not a fanatic. He did not threaten people if they didn't listen to him. He understood that we each have the freedom to accept God's teachings or not.

He also understood that one must carefully choose who they accept as a teacher.

What does 'from heaven, or from men' mean?

This is the one question Jesus asks because this is the key to Jesus' authority.

Jesus is referring to his being baptized by John the Baptist. This confirms that Jesus became the disciple of John the Baptist, and that John had many other disciples, and Jesus was also baptizing but Jesus' disciples were doing most of it:
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John — although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. (John 4:1-2)
This is confirmed as we find that Jesus baptized his own disciples, and delegated much of the act of baptizing to how disciples.

So Jesus is saying that John's baptism is what gave him authority. This is why Jesus asked them if John's baptism "came from heaven, or from men."

Where did baptism come from?

One might think - since there is no baptism in the Old Testament - that this process originated with John the Baptist.

However, this is not true. Baptism is essentially the same process utilized in the Old Testament and translated to the word 'anointing:'
“Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests." (Exodus 30:30)
This was God's instruction to Moses, as the process to be used to symbolize becoming a disciple of Moses. As mentioned in the above verse, this is also described as serving to 'consecrete them.'

Baptism is essentially the same process, as liquid is poured over the head in a ceremony of consecration. Oil was often used, but water was also used:
Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water. (Lev. 8:6)
We find from this that both John and Jesus utilized baptism to 'consecrate' [or purify] people, leading to their becoming disciples.

Therefore, one might consider using water from a river to baptize or consecrate as 'the poor man's' version of anointing.

As to the question asked by Jesus - whether John's baptism came from heaven or men, we find the answer in Exodus 30:30 above. Since God instructed Moses to do this, we must accept that John's baptism was 'from heaven.'

It is essentially a ritual, but it symbolizes a purification derived from devotion to God.

Was authority handed down through the Prophets?

The ritual of anointing or baptism leading to purification and becoming a disciple is consistent with the process of authority being passed down through the lineage of the Prophets for thousands of years.

Knowledge - and the authority to pass on that knowledge - was passed from Abraham to Lot and Isaac. From Isaac to Jacob. From Jacob to Joseph. From Joseph to the sons of Israel. From Jethro to Moses. From Moses to Joshua. From Eli to Samuel. From Samuel to Saul and David. From David (and Zadok the priest and Nathan the Prophet) to Solomon. This lineage descended from David and Solomon down to the devoted priest Zachariah - John the Baptist's teacher.

And Jesus accepted baptism from John the Baptist, and then baptized his own disciples, who baptized their own.

The scriptures are a testament of this lineage of teachers and students through the ages. Sometimes the teachings of loving service to God were given from a father who was a loving servant of God to his son, and sometimes they were passed from a priest who was a loving servant of God to his student.

In all cases, we see a tradition among God's prophets. Their empowerment came from God. Their service began to the Prophet and was symbolized by "anointing" or "baptizing." Once the disciple learned at the feet of the Prophet they would then apply this knowledge. As their relationship with God developed, God might empower them to become a teacher. This is the authority that Jesus is speaking of here.

Did the Pharisees accept this process?

The officials of the institutional temple that Jesus was speaking to here were not following this tradition. They had developed a political hierarchical system whereby councils of men appointed other men to become their "authorized" teachers. This is diametrically opposed to what is illustrated in the scriptures, and what Jesus is referring to here as the true authorization to teach.

We also see that Jesus not only accepted this process as he was baptized by John. He also baptized his followers. And he requested of those who were dedicated to his teachings to go out and also become teachers to others (which they did). In other words, Jesus authorized those followers, just as John the Baptist authorized Jesus. This is the process authorized by God as documented in Exodus.

The political process of the Pharisees was not authorized by God because the teachers and leaders were being elected by councils of men. This means their "authority came from men," as Jesus put his question.

The same goes for the political process used today among many sectarian institutions, as councils of men will elect priests, pastors, cardinals, deacons and so forth.

Yes, ironically, even though Jesus practiced this ancient process of a teacher transmitting instructions and teachings to a follower who then becomes a teacher, most of today's sectarian teachers subscribe to the political method of being "authorized by men."

It is not as if baptism is separated from teaching. As we can see from the record of John the Baptist, he was not simply dunking people in the water and then sending them off.

Rather, John was teaching from the river Jordan. He was giving them knowledge. The rite of baptism is simply a symbolic activity that represents a person accepting the teachings of his teacher, just as the anointing with oil was a symbolic activity among the ancient Prophets.

What about today's baptisms?

Today many politically-authorized sectarian teachers and their institutions are dunking or splashing people with water without any value. It has become an empty ritual.

That is because their authority has 'come from men.' The authority of most of these teachers comes in the form of election or appointment from men and their councils. Therefore it is a political appointment.

The baptism ritual has become a ceremony of joining a particular sect or group in many cases. This is arguably offensive to Jesus, because his core teachings (of loving and serving God) have been put in the background:
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will come to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23)
From these teachings, we can conclude that simply dunking someone in water “in the name of Jesus” is not in itself pleasing to Jesus or God. The activity can only have value if it is accompanied by the acceptance of the core teachings of Jesus - the first and foremost being to love God and do God’s will.

Only then can the submission (or baptism) come "from heaven" and not "from men."

“Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” (Matthew 21:27)

John's baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?" They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'Of human origin'—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We don't know." Then he said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things." (Matt. 21:26)

Why didn't Jesus tell them?

We should note that this exchange is taking place between Jesus and "the chief priests and the elders of the people," according to Matthew 21:23.

So why didn't Jesus tell them where his authority came from? Because they were not willing to admit publicly that John the Baptist's baptism (and teachings) were from God, Jesus was not going to state to them that his authority also came from God.

This response by the institutional chief priests and elders is critical to the time and circumstances surrounding Jesus’ teachings, Jesus’ relationship with John the Baptist, and how John the Baptist is key to our understanding of who Jesus was. How so?

While many among sectarian institutions might try to deny that Jesus was actually the disciple of John the Baptist, this is confirmed in the priests and elders' statement, and Jesus’ response. It is also confirmed by the fact that John baptized Jesus.

From their statements, we can see that John the Baptist was an esteemed teacher in those times, and was widely recognized as a prophet.

Jesus' statements also indicate that Jesus was teaching the same teachings as his teacher, John the Baptist. These, in fact, are the same teachings of all the prophets.

All of these and more indicate that John the Baptist was Jesus' teacher.

Was John the Baptist a Prophet?

Many sectarian teachers would have us believe that John the Baptist's role was only to introduce Jesus. As though John the Baptist did not teach to thousands of people, and people journeyed hundreds of miles to hear him speak:
Even tax collectors came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?" (Luke 3:12)
Jesus also accepted John as a bonafide teacher:
"For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did." (Matt. 21:32)

After John's messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet." (Luke 7:24-26)

John was by Jesus' own words, a true Prophet. "More than a Prophet" doesn't disregard Prophets like Moses and Abraham, which Jesus quoted and followed. John was "more" because he dedicated his life to teaching people. John's entire life was to serve and please the Supreme Being.

Many sectarian institutions teach that the Prophets merely “prophetized” - or foretold events of the future, primarily Jesus' coming. This is a blatant twisting of the content of the Bible, and an attempt to downplay the importance of the teachings of the Prophets.

If this were true, this would mean that for thousands of years, no one could be saved. They would have us believe that billions of people had to await Jesus’ birth and suffering on the cross in order to have salvation. This indeed is a twisting of all the essential teachings of Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, Job, Jacob and all the other representatives of God who came to teach humanity to love and serve God.

The sectarian teachers of today want us to ignore all the great teachings of these prophets in order to focus on Jesus' crucifixion to get salvation. They want us to ignore Moses' teaching:
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deut. 6:5)
Which Jesus quoted in his teachings, adding: "This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:38)

Are we automatically saved by Jesus' crucifixion?

Why would Jesus bother to quote Moses and other prophets if their teachings were not important? Why would he even bother to teach if all we had to do was stare at a depiction of Jesus suffering on the cross every and be saved?

This teaching that we are automatically saved by Jesus' "dying" on the cross is ludicrous. It assumes that every other teaching of the Bible is moot. It assumes that a person does not have to change. It assumes that a person can continue to live his or her self-centered life and still be saved after they make that declaration that they are saved - essentially wiping their sins off on Jesus.

This has nothing to do with Jesus' teachings. It has nothing to do with the examples of all the lives of the prophets, and their teachings. If they did, why didn't Jesus just come out and say "Just wait until I am crucified and then just stare at the cross in church on Sunday and you'll be saved."?

Rather, he said:
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
The teachings of Jesus and all the prophets are the same, and it is these teachings that can save us - assuming we hear them and we make the necessary changes to comply with them. It is coming to know, love and take shelter of the Supreme Being that will save us.

Following the teachings of Jesus and the prophets, including John the Baptist, means to recognize that God is the most important person in the universe, not me. It means to give up our self-centered lives and become God-centered. It means to love and serve God with all our hearts.

This requires a change of heart and a change of consciousness. Something that Jesus and all the prophets were trying to teach us with their lives.

“There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first...” (Matthew 21:28-31)

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” (Matthew 21:28-31)

What does the parable of the two sons mean?

Jesus is responding specifically to some temple priests and elders who came to Jesus when he was teaching in the courtyard to question his authority. So they had asked Jesus:
"By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?" (Matt. 21:23)

“There was a man ..."

Jesus is giving an analogy for two types of people regarding their dealings with God. The son who said he would not help in the vineyard but then didn't represents those who have rejected God.

"go and work today...'"

The topic of Jesus' parable is service. This is our relationship with the Supreme Being. We are His servants - this is why we were created. But notice that the father is giving his son the choice to work in the vineyard - which is why he could say no. They are not slaves, in other words.

The Supreme Being gave us the freedom to love and serve Him or not because love requires freedom to love or not to love - and the freedom to serve or not.

"'later he changed his mind and went."

Jesus is describing a person who rebels against the Supreme Being but then comes to realize they need the Supreme Being. They decide they want to return to their innate relationship with the Supreme Being.

Virtually everyone living in the physical world has rejected the Supreme Being - this is why we are here and not in the spiritual world with God now.

"Then the father went to the other son ..."

The son who tells his father that he will help in the vineyard and then doesn’t represents those who take positions of authority amongst organized ecclesiastical religions - in effect representing to others that they are God's representatives, but instead have only their self-interests at heart.

Jesus is describing one who is duplicitous, in other words. A hypocritical relationship of outward oaths without commitment.

Why is this Jesus' response to the question regarding Jesus' own authority?

The second son in Jesus' parable refers to the institutional temple priests and elders, who were pretending to serve God but were really serving their own interests. They were collecting salaries and claiming authority, but they are using their authority for self-serving purposes. Inwardly they seek to further their own reputations and authority, but outwardly claim they are God's representatives.

Today we can apply this to those who pretend to be God's representatives by wearing the robes and taking titles of priests, reverends, bishops, gurus, ministers, imams or popes - but do not actually seek to please God.

"Which of the two ...”

What does "what his father wanted" mean? The King James version puts it as:
"Whether of them twain did the will of his father?"
And the New King James in more modern English:
“Which of the two did the will of his father?”
The keyword comes from the Greek θέλημα (thelēma), which means according to the lexicon, "what one wishes or has determined shall be done" and "will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure."

Jesus' analogy is speaking of doing the will of the Supreme Being - pleasing God. Jesus was speaking of whether the Pharisees were pleasing God:
"The first," they answered. (Matt. 21:31)
"Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." (Matthew 21:31)
This final response will be discussed further, but we can see that Jesus has been comparing the second son to the priests and elders - who put themselves above the tax collectors and prostitutes - as they claim to be serving God but aren't.

Notice that Jesus is breaking down one's relationship with the Supreme Being into the most basic terms regarding relationships. Why?

Did Jesus teach that God is a person?

All of Jesus' teachings and interactions with God - his prayers and his praises - indicate that God is someone we can honor, pray to, serve and try to please. Simply because Jesus taught doing the will of God indicates that God has a will. These all point to the reality that Jesus taught that God is a person.

Jesus also taught that each of us can have a personal relationship with the Supreme Being.

Each of us is looking for such a personal relationship. We search high and low for a real friend - or someone we can refer to as a soul mate. Yet here in this world true friends are few, and even the person we think is our soul mate proves to not be so perfect after a few years.

This is because our real soul mate is the Supreme Being. This is who we are looking for as we search the world for "the one." The Supreme Being is that "one" person we are seeking as we search for someone who will love us unconditionally and stick with us through thick and thin.

It is also the Supreme Being who we seek as we seek beauty, pleasure and fulfillment.

As we observe others as well as ourselves from within we can easily see that without our relationship with God we are alone and empty. No matter how famous or wealthy we may be. We can see this as famous people with vast wealth and millions of fans will commit suicide. Why? Don't those millions of adoring fans give them any fulfillment? No. Only a relationship with the Supreme Being can fulfill us.

Jesus is speaking about service here because service is the key component of love. When a person loves someone, they will automatically do their will. They will do things that please the person. If their beloved wants to go somewhere, the person who loves them will take them where they want to go. If their beloved wants a certain type of food, the person who loves them will go get that food for them.

Is service related to love?

Just consider a person who wants to be our friend in order to get something from us. Do we think they love us? Certainly not. We understand they want to be friends in order to get what they want. This is not a loving relationship.

Yet this is the kind of relationship that sectarian teachers are teaching us to have with God. They teach that our relationship with God is based on getting stuff from Him: Asking Him to fix our leg or help our football team win.

Yet this is not the relationship that Jesus is teaching us to have with God. He is teaching us to have a relationship of loving service with the Supreme Being - where we serve Him. A relationship of wanting to please God.

And this is the type of relationship that Jesus had with the Supreme Being:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)

"I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes ..." (Matthew 21:31)

"I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." (Matthew 21:31)

Why would they enter the kingdom of God ahead?

Jesus is speaking to the institutional temple priests and elders who came to Jesus to question his authority for teaching in the temple courtyard. Remember, they had said to Jesus:
"By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?" (Matt. 21:23)
So Jesus had told them the parable of the two sons (Matt. 21:28-31), to which they agreed that the first son - who told his father he wouldn't do the work at first but then changed his mind and did it - pleased his father more than the second son - who told his father he would do the work and then didn't.

Jesus was comparing the institutional temple priests and elders to the second son. This was because they were presenting to everyone (including God) that they were God's representatives and doing the work of God, when they were actually simply seeking to maintain their authority and superiority in their positions as ecclesiastically-appointed, salaried officials of the temple.

Thus, despite their presentation as God's representatives, they were not doing God's work. Their interests were self-serving. Thus they were misrepresenting themselves.

Why is this worse than being a prostitute or tax collector?

But why is this worse than the prostitutes and tax collectors? Why will these folks return to God in the spiritual realm before these institutional temple officials, according to Jesus? Weren't the prostitutes and tax collectors also serving their own interests, and in far worse ways?

Actually, no. The reason is that Jesus says they will reach God first is because they weren't misrepresenting themselves. They weren't pretending to be God's representatives when they weren't.

The prostitutes and tax collectors were not presenting to the world that they were so dedicated to God when they weren't dedicated to the Supreme Being. The prostitutes and tax collectors were not wearing the big robes. The prostitutes and tax collectors didn't use positions of religious teacher for their own purposes.

The prostitutes and tax collectors weren't taking salaries and nice living arrangements in exchange for supposedly teachings people about God.

Rather, the prostitutes and tax collectors presented to society exactly who they were. They were at least being honest about their roles. For this reason, they stood a better chance of honestly turning to God.

What would we call someone who represents themselves as being affiliated with something they are not affiliated with? Or misrepresenting a product they are selling? Or someone who asks for donations for a particular purpose and then takes those donations and uses them for their own purposes? Or someone who represents themselves as helping others when they are abusing followers?

We would likely call such a person a fraud, or worse.

Is there a history of fraud among religious institutions?

Fraud in the name of religious practice has unfortunately been a continuing circumstance in human history. Long after this conversation between Jesus and these sectarian teachers, we continue to see fraud among some people and institutions.

Over the centuries we have uncovered obvious fraud by priests, popes, cardinals, bishops, reverends and ministers of the various sects of sectarian institutions. They have achieved positions of authority through politically-derived councils of men, while collecting salaries and other perks in exchange for teaching and performing rituals.

Meanwhile, their activities have indicated that their real interests were in achieving and maintaining power and authority over others. And sometimes outright abuse of followers.

They sought to maintain positions of false authority and superiority by retaining professional salaried positions. If they were serving God why did they collect salaries? Was serving God not enough?

Fraud in the name of religious activity is not confined to the institutions that have claimed to represent Jesus. We've also seen fraud among some holding positions of rabbis, gurus, imams and others around the world. We have seen those who maintain that they represent God when they actually seek to exercise their superiority over others and use their followers for their own gain.

We have also seen some people that have represented themselves as God incarnated onto the earth. Truly, some institutions have been set up to elect one "god" after another to the position of "god incarnate."

All of these belong in the same category of the institutional temple priests that Jesus was speaking to. Why? Because they are fraudulently representing themselves.

Did Jesus' life illustrate this?

Jesus did not accept an official title from the temple and accept money or a salary for teaching in the temples. Jesus was not elected to his post as teacher. He received no materialistic reward for his teaching or healing activities.

Rather, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was empowered by the Supreme Being. He didn't need to misrepresent himself, because God empowered him.

Those who know God and serve God - like Jesus - do not assume ecclesiastical titles given by councils of humans. Their titles do not rely upon the approval of others. And they do not accept salaries for teaching about God. Those who actually represent God seek to please Him with their lives, and do not misrepresent themselves. Jesus illustrated this with his life.

And Jesus' close followers like Peter and James also illustrated this with their lives.

God's representative is focused on pleasing God. This is why Jesus stated:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
Pleasing God has nothing to do with pleasing people. We can see this by Jesus' example. Even though he was accepted as a rabbi by his followers, he was condemned by the ecclesiastical teachers of the temple institution. Why? Because he did not teach and do what they wanted.

Rather, he taught and did what the Supreme Being wanted him to. He was God's representative and loving servant, not theirs. This is why he said:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)

"For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness ...." (Matthew 21:32)

"For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." (Matthew 21:32)

Was John the teacher of Jesus?

Many have a problem with this statement. They inaccurately claim that Jesus was God and that Jesus never accepted a teacher. Yet we know that Jesus sat with Rabbis asking them questions when he was younger:
After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. (Luke 2:46)
We also know that Jesus accepted baptism from John:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. (Matthew 3:13)
Baptism is the act of accepting that person as teacher. This is confirmed by others who accepted baptism from John:
Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” (Luke 3:12)
This last verse makes it clear that for them, baptism is the act of accepting that person (the baptizer or baptist) as their spiritual teacher. They greeted them as "teacher" and they also asked them to instruct them ("what should we do?").

What about baptism today?

Today we find a host of different sects conducting baptism in various ways. Some may be dunked, or splashed or water is poured onto the person otherwise. For many of these, baptism is a rite of passage - a ritual to declare one's allegiance to a particular sect or church.

In these secular baptisms, the person giving the ritual can be a reverend or priest, or a church deacon. Often they are administered by officials appointed by the sect.

Yet the person who has been baptized will still come away thinking that they are saved somehow by the purification of the water. this is assumed because Jesus' name was invoked during the ritual.

Yet Jesus himself criticized this ritualistic endeavor, and condemned the use of his name for cleansing rituals:
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:22-23)
So while many will feel graced by having been dunked in water while someone else proclaims the name of Jesus, we find from Jesus' own teachings that he was not impressed by rituals and healings done in his name.

Rather, Jesus wanted something else from his students:
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

Is Jesus God?

Sectarian institutions and their teachers will claim that John could not be Jesus' teacher because Jesus is God. They also say that John himself said that Jesus should baptize him.

Yes, that is true, but this illustrates the humility of John, and the fact that Jesus was an advanced spiritual person. Jesus was not your typical follower. He was very advanced in his relationship with the Supreme Being.

And this fact cannot be denied from the scripture. Jesus prayed to God repeatedly. He also said over and over that he was sent by God:
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish his work." (John 4:34)

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24)

"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)

“I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me." (John 5:36)

"And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen His form," (John 5:37)

"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)

"And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day." (John 6:39)

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." (John 6:44)

"Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me." (John 6:57)

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)

Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but He who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from Him and He sent me.” (John 7:28-29)

Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the One who sent me." (John 7:33)

"But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me." (John 8:16

"I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” (John 8:18)

“I have much to say in judgment of you. But He who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from Him I tell the world.” (John 8:26)

"The One who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29)

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me." (John 8:42)

"As long as it is day, we must do the works of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." (John 9:4)

"I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent me.” (John 11:42)

Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the One who sent me." (John 12:44)

"The one who looks at me is seeing the One who sent me." (John 12:45)

"For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken." (John 12:49)

"Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the One who sent me.” (John 13:20)

"Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." (John 14:24)

"They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me." (John 15:21)

"but now I am going to Him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’" (John 16:5)

For I gave them the words You gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent me." (John 17:8)
This means, by Jesus' own admission, that Jesus is not God. Rather, Jesus is God's representative. To be sent by someone else means to be that person's representative or messenger. Jesus is God's messenger.

Yes, it is quite easy to confuse the messenger with the sender of the messenger. Especially when the sender cannot be readily seen. But the reason we are not seeing God with the physical eyes is that this is the dimension where God makes Himself visible, in order to give us the freedom to love or not love God - and even the freedom to even not accept His existence.

This is because love requires the freedom to love.

“There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. ...” (Matthew 21:33-40)

“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them in the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” (Matthew 21:33-40)

What does this parable about the vineyard landowner mean?

Jesus is speaking of how humans have treated many of God's representatives as they have come to save us.

Who is 'the landowner'?

Like the vineyard, God created the physical universe for us to live within temporarily. It is a temporary domain, built with a purpose.

What is the wall, the winepress and the watchtower?

The winepress symbolizes the endeavors of the physical world, while the wall and the watchtower symbolize our inability to escape the physical world without permission - specific permission from the Supreme Being and His representatives.

Who are the 'farmer tenants'?

The physical universe might be considered to be governed by a type of a rental agreement, as God expects that someday we will return to Him. In fact, He created the physical universe specifically as a learning facility: Its purpose is to help us grow; and realize that we are not happy without Him. The basic agreement is that He facilitates our learning experience and protects us through the process, while we learn the lessons of love and caring for others.

The owner going away on a journey symbolizes the fact that the Supreme Being has basically given us freedom of choice within the physical world. It is not as though He really goes away - but He leaves the world to us - though we must also suffer the consequences of our activities.

What is the harvest and collecting the rent?

Understanding we are perpetually empty without our relationship with Him is the lesson we should harvest from our physical lifetimes. The realization that God is our Best Friend and our only shelter is the fruit of Jesus' analogy.

Just as the rent in Jesus' story, we return this realization to God as we learn to serve Him with love. Should we misuse the facilities of our physical lifetime, and use them to attempt to maintain our own enjoyment while continuing to reject God, then we would be like the tenants who did not pay the landlord the rent.

To remind us of our need to rebuild our relationship with God and return to Him, God has sent and continues to send many of His loving servants - His representatives - to try to bring us home. So they try to teach us the truth. They are like the servants of the landlord who came to collect the fruit.

Why did they beat and kill the 'servants'?

Throughout the history of humanity, so many teachers have come to try to teach us to love God. These include all of the prophets. They include Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Job, Jonah, Zachariah, John the Baptist, Jesus and some of Jesus' disciples.

While many of these mentioned were not necessarily murdered, some were, such as John the Baptist, Jesus and Peter: But there were also many others in between and throughout human history that have been disrespected, and even tortured and/or murdered for their faith in God and their teachings.

Who is the 'son of the landlord'?

The sending of the landlord's son is often thought to mean that Jesus was speaking of himself. While this may be true, the analogy was meant to further indicate the core lesson of the story - that humanity has been rejecting God's representatives and His continual outreach to us. As Jesus has taught, we are all children of God. As we have shown with other verses, those considered “sons” of God are his loving servants (υἱός = a follower or dedicated servant):

Jesus confirmed this when he said:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
In this, a "peacemaker" is someone who makes peace with God - a servant of God, in other words. Even Jesus' disciples agreed with this position:
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26)
Furthermore, it is more likely that Jesus was referring to John the Baptist as the son of the landlord, because his statements just previous to his speaking this parable were specifically discussing John the Baptist:
"For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him..." (Matthew 21:32)
We should also note that Jesus had yet to be murdered at the time of this discussion. Could he be predicting his own murder? Possibly - but this is not the point.

Does God send us His messengers?

The greater point of Jesus' parable is the fact that God keeps sending His servants - or representatives - just as the landlord kept sending his servants, and we keep rejecting them. This is offensive to the Supreme Being just as the murder of the servants and son of the landlord was egregious to the landlord in Jesus' parable.

Jesus expressed this elsewhere as he admonished the sectarian institution for having ignored so many of the teachings of the Prophets. He once said:
"Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:12)
As Jesus spoke this to his own students, it is apparent that he did not accept that he was the last servant of God to be sent to humanity to proclaim the message of love for God.

It also indicates that the path to pleasing God is to give homage to His servants. If the renters of the vineyard had welcomed the landlord's servants and son and treated them with dignity and respect, and paid them the landlord's share, the landlord would have been pleased with them.

We can do the same. We can accept and revere those servants of God who have been sent to earth to deliver God's message:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)