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Friday, December 22, 2023

A Blessed Feast of the Nativity


Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shined the light of knowledge upon the world; for thereby they that worshipped the stars were instructed by a star to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory be to Thee.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Billy Graham Embraced the Call to be a Christian


Ruth and Billy Graham

"I believe that Billy Graham had a profound impact on the world because he first embraced the call, not of being an evangelist, but being a Christian." - Curtis Hunnicutt

The Rev. Dr. Billy Graham was a bold proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This was his first priority and it often put him at odds with both liberals and conservatives. Billy Graham's irenic approach was not fully appreciated in the polemic of the mid-20th century. 

Writing for the Britannica, Randall Balmer explains, "In New York City in 1954, he was received warmly by students at Union Theological Seminary, a bastion of liberal Protestantism; nevertheless, the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, a professor at Union and one of the leading Protestant thinkers of the 20th century, had little patience for Graham’s simplistic preaching. On the other end of the theological spectrum, fundamentalists such as Bob Jones, Jr., Carl McIntire, and Jack Wyrtzen never forgave Graham for cooperating with the Ministerial Alliance, which included mainline Protestant clergy, in the planning and execution of Graham’s storied 16-week crusade at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1957. Such cooperation, however, was part of Graham’s deliberate strategy to distance himself from the starchy conservatism and separatism of American fundamentalists. His entire career, in fact, was marked by an irenic spirit."

I believe this was part of the secret to Graham's expansive influence. Perhaps the greater part was his insistence that the Word preached has the power to save sinners, to make disciples, and to bring change even to the troubled world. He once said, "When the Gospel of Jesus Christ is presented with authority - quoting from the very word of God - He takes that message and drives it supernaturally into the human heart."

Related reading: Billy Graham on Discipleship, Be Salt, Light Where You Are

Thursday, October 12, 2023

The Irrepressible Truth

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”
 (Matt. 28:18-20)

This has been called “The Great Commission" and it is delivered by the One who holds all authority as ruler and high priest over the cosmos. Jesus gave this command citing His absolute authority in "Heaven and Earth" (a merism). The divine Son's authority was perceived by people even before His Incarnation.

Disciples of Jesus Christ are found around the world and the number is growing, especially in places where the Faith is suppressed and denied. The Truth of the Gospel is irrepressible. It makes itself known even in the darkest places. Indeed, it always ultimately overcomes the darkness!

The biblical Hebrew recognized three types of authority: derived, attributed, and achieved. The deification of rulers required derived and attributed authority. Because the ruler was seen as God's representative on earth and the one to enforce divine law, his authority was believed to be derived from God.

If the ruler proved over time to be just or righteous in his actions and decrees, the priests would attribute deification. Deification or apotheosis was an expression of the flamboyant honor shown to royal masters by their servants.

Deification was indicated by the SR designation in the ruler's epithet and or royal name. The historical ruler Osiris was deified as is evident in his name O-SiR. Among the Sumerians and Akkadians SR designated a king (šarrum) and a queen (šarratum). The Akkadian itti šarrim means "with the king".

None of the ancient rulers returned from the dead. They had no authority over death. However, the Son of God broke the hold of death. He tramped down death by His death. He leads his disciples to the Father and admits them to His eternal kingdom. This is the truth that can never be suppressed.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Angels Marvel at the Obedience of Faith

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

"Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:" (Rom 16:25, 26).

In this verse, the importance of obedience of faith is seen as the "the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures..." The obedience of faith springs from love of God Father, God Son, and God Holy Spirit. Without that love there can be no obedience, no true discipleship.

The relationship between faithful humanity and God is a matter into which even the angels desire to look (1 Peter 1:12).

In the Greek New Testament, there are only two words in this phrase: upakohn pistews -"obedience of faith." "Obedience" (upakohn) is in the accusative case showing that it is the designed result of God’s “grace” and “apostleship” (Rom. 1:5). Such grace is a cause of astonishment to the angels!

Grace (pistews) is a gift that cannot be earned. Apostleship is the God-given authority to convey the revelation of God’s salvation, to share the Gospel of saving grace. From the beginning, the Holy Trinity has been working out the salvation of all who turn to the Holy One.

This is the teaching point from Ephesians 3:9-10: "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God."

The grace of God, the gift of faith, and the obedience of love are a cause of wonder among the heavenly hosts. These are to be celebrated in the Church and we are to pray for their increase.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

A First Look at "The First Lords of the Earth"


Dr. Alice C. Linsley

My book The First Lords of the Earth: An Anthropological Study is available on Amazon. Options include Kindle, paperback, or hard cover and all are priced to accommodate the book lover on a tight budget. 

The book identifies the social structure and religious beliefs of the early Hebrew ruler-priest caste (6000-4000 years ago), their dispersion out of Africa, their territorial expansion, trade routes, and influence on the populations of the Fertile Crescent and Ancient Near East.

Readers say this book brings the figures of the Old Testament to life. 

The research took 40 years, but I was able to make a rather complex subject easy to understand. I hope you will buy the book and discover answers to some perennial questions, such as:

  • Who were the Horite Hebrew and the Sethite Hebrew?
  • Where is the oldest known site of Horite Hebrew worship?
  • Why did so many Hebrew men have two wives?
  • What was the difference in status between wives and concubines?
  • What types of authority did the biblical Hebrew recognize?
  • What were some symbols of authority among the early Hebrew?
  • How did their acute observation of patterns in Nature inform their reasoning?
  • If Judaism is NOT the Faith of the early Hebrew, what did they believe?

I hope you will find the book helpful and informative.

Best wishes,

Alice C. Linsley

Friday, July 7, 2023

Shoeless Worship


By Hope Ellen Rapson

“…Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up”. When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”

And he said, “Here I am.”

The He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.”
Gen. 3:1-9 (ESV)

In many cultures, it is a sign of respect, humility, and honor to remove one’s shoes or at least to ask the host or hostess what their preference might be, before entering their home. Moses belonged to one of these cultures. His religious life reflected traditional practices. Then, when he found himself in the very presence of Almighty God, the Lord gave him these instructions.

First, Moses had to present himself as other, and lesser, than God. Second, he had to fully recognize whose Presence he was entering. Third, Moses had to honor, submit, and worship, not a tradition, but the living Creator and Sustainer of all.

Moses was a prince, a skillful shepherd, a businessman, and a family leader in Midian. His successes and status perhaps gave him a sense of exalted self-importance. This had to be counted as nothing in the presence of Almighty God. It had to be set aside with his shoes.

C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity that pride is the ‘anti-God’ state, the position in which the ego and the self are directly opposed to God. “Shoeless Worship” is the position in which the ego and self are discounted and surrendered to glorify God. It is easy and common to attend church services with our ego-shoes on, and neglect to humbly recognize why we are there and Who we have come to meet.

In her poem “Aurora Leigh,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed it this way:

Earth’s crammed with heaven;

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.

The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,

And daub their natural faces unaware.

Let us not “sit, and pluck, and daub” unaware or ignoring God who deserves our “shoeless worship.”

Monday, June 26, 2023

Being at Peace


Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Webster’s dictionary defines peace as a state of tranquility. However, to be at peace with evil never brings tranquility, only chaos. Peace with Satan means war with God.

Imagine the emotional experience the soldiers had in World War I when peace was declared. They were about to rush out of the trenches to face the machine guns. The battles had taken the lives of many thousands of their fellow soldiers. They were facing imminent destruction and then the message of the Armistice came! Peace, peace, not bullets!

But the peace lasted for a short 2 decades before the greater suffering of World War II. 

A heart doctor wrote about how he was trying to save a man’s life by strongly pumping on his chest. Instead of asking relief from the painful pushing, as many others had, the patient cried out for the doctor to keep it up.

He said: “It's so terrible, over there!” 

After several repetitions, the doctor repeated several Bible verses to him. When the man revived, he related a great peace he felt during his loss of consciousness. He had trusted God’s promises!

I too have experienced that kind of inner peace. Once, it was like sitting in a rowboat in a lake without a ripple or slight movement of air. Another time, after I was immersed in baptismal waters, I experienced pure joy coming down on my head as honey poured from a bucket. My experience of God’s peace was glorious!

This is the peace that passes human understanding. It is more than tranquility. It is a foretaste of life eternal in the peaceable kingdom.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13).

Friday, June 16, 2023

Dallas Willard on Worship


Professor Dallas Willard championed the cause of evangelicalism.
(Courtesy of USC University archives)

The core of the person is what he or she loves, and that is bound up with what they worship - that insight recalibrates the radar for cultural analysis. The rituals and practices that form our loves spill out well beyond the sanctuary. Many secular liturgies are trying to get us to love some other kingdom and some other gods.  Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard was an American philosopher known for his writings on Christian spiritual formation. Much of his work in philosophy was related to phenomenology, particularly the work of Edmund Husserl, many of whose writings he translated into English for the first time. He is considered a "champion of Evangelicalism".

He was longtime Professor of Philosophy at The University of Southern California in Los Angeles, teaching at the school from 1965 until his death in 2013 and serving as the department chair from 1982 to 1985.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Risky Worship


By Hope Ellen Rapson

"Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was, the Jesus had raised from the dead. So, they gave a dinner for him there; Martha was serving them, and Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of perfume, pure and expensive Nard, anointed Jesus’s feet and wiped his feet with her hair. So, the House was filled with the fragrance of the perfume…" John 12:1-8

Shortly after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus, Lazarus, and Lazarus' two sisters were invited to a dinner with family friends. This event was in direct defiance to the orders of the Sanhedrin edict that anyone who knew where Jesus was, should report it so that they could arrest him (John 11:57).

Mary chose to worship and honor Jesus by helping to serve the meal, no doubt with a heart of joy. After all, her sole legal protection and financial provision in society had been restored when Lazarus was restored to life. Mary chose to worship and honor Jesus another way. Washing someone’s feet was considered degrading, but Mary washed the Lord’s feet with twelve ounces of undiluted perfume (nard) worth a year’s wages. Furthermore, she dried the Lord’s feet with her hair, which was expected to be completely covered as a sign of purity and piety. All the guests, and especially Mary, recklessly abandoned and disregarded their culture’s expectations and concerns; they purposed in their hearts to follow Jesus as “God in their midst.”

Are you ready to take risks to align yourself with Jesus? Are you willing to “worship Christ in spirit and in truth?”

Monday, May 29, 2023

Bible on Trial

At Castle Air Force Base, Atwater, California, when Major Kenneth W. Linsley, the Head Judge Advocate, approached the base Chaplain about starting a Sunday morning Bible study at the base chapel, the chaplain’s response was, “Teach the Bible? Who wants to study something so irrelevant? Now, I will give you space to teach something like The Passover Plot.”

The next Sunday, Major Linsley opened the base courtroom to more than a dozen people who wanted to study the Gospel of John. Some of the attendees came from the brig in chains and handcuffs to hear God’s Word from the same military attorney that incarcerated them for their crimes. Much to the Chaplain’s chagrin, the "Courtroom Bible Class" became a place where the Bible was put on trial and declared relevant enough to transform many into “born again” believers.

(From unpublished Linsley Family Narratives)

Saturday, May 20, 2023

C. S. Lewis on Worship


"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." - C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Worship in Spirit and Truth


Hope Ellen Rapson

“I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1.

Two dictionary definitions of worship are (1) honoring or showing reverence for a divine being or supernatural power, and (2) regarding someone or something with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion, The first one applies to God; the second applies to man. Together they reflect what Jesus taught as the two greatest commandments---to love God with all you heart, mind, and spirit, and to love others as one loves themselves.

However, the question most asked is “How?” Jesus told Photini (the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well) that we should worship God “in spirit and in truth.” 

How do we do that? By developing a lifestyle that is focused on honoring God in all we do and serving others in ways that show that God has continually loving thought toward them. An excellent example of that was Brother Lawrence.

Brother Lawrence, author of Practicing the Presence of God, lived a simple monastic life focused on doing whatever he was called upon to do in the presence of God for the honor and glory of God. He wrote, “We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king.”

Consider the following questions:

  • Do I start my day with the goal of giving honor to God through all the duties or demands or distresses that might come whether they seem insignificant or considerably important?
  • Do I review my day asking forgiveness for when I did not reflect his glory and honor Him in what I thought, did, or said, and asking for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to better honor Him during the next day?

Praise, thanksgiving, and commitment to Almighty God in the mornings partnered with confession, supplication, and submission in the evenings is a practical pattern framework to follow in developing a lifestyle that demonstrates the worship of the Lord “in spirit and truth.”

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Grace is God Being God

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

The standard understanding of grace is "unmerited favor", and most preaching on grace focuses almost exclusively on salvation (Eph 2:8, 9). However, grace is multi-faceted. Sometimes it is expressed as God’s sanctification of humans and their enablement for service.

I believe that grace is simply God being God!

In the beginning there was but nothingness and nothingness has no merit. God's very nature seeks to fill all things. Creation was to exhibit God’s glory (Ps 19:1-6). 

All creatures came to be by God's grace. God's power to generate life is expressed in their diversity and complexity. 

Grace is expressed in the steps and processes to make earth inhabitable. Even the angels owe their existence to God's grace.

And even now, Jesus is creating eternal homes in grace. He could have cleaned up this earth, but by grace He will create a new earth and a New Jerusalem for those who have trusted Him.

By His grace those who suffer and diligently serve Him (Matt 25:21-23; Rom 8:17) will receive blessing upon blessing and life everlasting.

God shows mercy even to the unmerciful that they might come to know Him. 

Grace reflects God's majesty.

What can we claim that is not an expression of His grace? All that we have, we have by God's grace. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

I Bid Your Prayers


Your prayers are requested for the blog's founder the Rev. Edward F. Lundwall who will undergo aorta valve surgery soon. Ed will turn 93 on June 18. Please pray for this servant of the Lord Jesus.

Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need; We humbly beseech thee to behold, visit, and relieve thy servant Ed for whom our prayers are offered. Look upon him with mercy; comfort him with a sense of thy goodness; preserve him; and give him patience. In thy good time, restore him to health, and enable him to lead the residue of his life in thy fear, and to thy glory; and grant that finally he may dwell with thee in life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr. is a retired Army Chaplain and a veteran of the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War. He and his late wife, Marionette, were Baptist home missionaries for nine years. They have three children, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

Alice C. Linsley, Administrator

Sunday, April 16, 2023


Hope Ellen Rapson

With sweaty palms and rusty spades

Diggers hope to find and drink,

Waters that quench their cravings…

Beauty, brawn, brains, and a bounty…

Only to discover thick tepid liquid,

Tasting of darkness, death, and dirt.

One broken heart, filled with thirst,

Unquenched by Jacob’s well…

Prompted---asked for a running stream…

A clear, continual life-giving artesian

Only of the Holy Spirit’s making,

Discovering fresh faith in “I am He.”

With sweaty palms and rusty spades

Still diggers search to find and drink,

Waters to quench those cravings…

With broken hearts and unfilled thirst,

Some come to the eternal current,

Fresh and flowing from the great “I Am.”

My empty heart, filled with thirst,

Unquenched by acts of my own will

Convicted---drank from the saving stream,

The cool, continual renewing well

Only of the Holy Spirit’s flowing

From faith in the Everlasting Man.

Related: Life Changing Worship

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Life Changing Worship


"But the hour is coming and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth." Jn. 4:23-24

Hope Ellen Rapson

The Samaritan women came to the well seeking the gratification of her thirst, performing an activity that led to her survival as woman in her culture, and escaping the shaming eyes of society. She had lost sight of the God she claimed she worshipped. Jesus restored her relationship by sweeping away her three great distractions.

The first distraction is the craving for physical gratification. In her case it was water in a parched land, but it could have been sex, drugs, alcohol, even food. 

The second is the desire to acquire material things. The Samaritan woman desired a marriage that would provide her those things in her culture…a home, its furnishings, financial security…had led her into two legal marriages followed by three illicit relationships. 

The third distraction was her the hope for the status, significance, and acceptance all of which she had lost, forcing her to draw water in the heat of the noonday sun away from the community of women that would gather there in the cool of the day.

Jesus redirected her focus from what the world offers to what God freely gives---the ability to walk in his loving presence and provision and practices everyday as an act of worship. Her life changing worship led to the transformation of her whole village.

In this present hour, are believers being transformed by the Holy Spirit and walking in visible, practicable ways showing the world what true worship of God is? Or are they so involved in the distractions of the world, they have lost sight and love of the Father?

Jesus said, "But the hour is coming and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth." Glorify the Father in undistracted worship.

Related reading: Who Was Photini?

Monday, March 27, 2023

Just a Penny

Edward F.  Lundwall Jr.

You hear the usual stories of pennies on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I've ever heard this twist on the story. 

Several years ago, my friend Arlene and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the home of her husband's employer. Arlene was anxious about the weekend. Her boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.

The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. Her husband's employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them were entering an exclusive restaurant, the boss walking ahead of Arlene and her husband, suddenly stopped to look down on the pavement. He reached down and picked up a penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure.

Arlene thought it strange that this wealthy man would take the time to stop and pick it up.

Throughout dinner, the scene tugged at her mind. Finally, she casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection and wondered if the penny he had found had some value.

A smile crept across the man's face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before. What was the point?

"Look at it," he said. "Read what it says."

She read the words, "United States of America ..."

"No, not that. Read further."

"One cent?"

"No, keep reading."

"In God We Trust?"



"If I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it. When God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him, who am I to pass it by? I pick the coin up as a response to God. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God's way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!"


When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, "In God We Trust," and had to laugh. "Yes, God, I get the message!"

It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful, and God is patient.


Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Prayers Requested for Ed


The founder of this blog, Ed Lundwall, is recovering from Covid. He spent 10 weeks in the hospital. His eyesight has been affected and his left eyelid stays closed. 

He is home now and hopes to be able to continue writing for the blog.

The Rev. Edward F. Lundwall, Jr. is a former Army Chaplain and a veteran of the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War. He and his late wife, Marionette, were Baptist home missionaries for nine years. They have three children, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

Ed will turn 93 on June 18 and asks for your prayers. Please pray for this servant of the Lord Jesus.

Alice C. Linsley, Administrator

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Salvation is Not an Event

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Salvation through faith in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ involves sanctification. Sanctification is the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Some who say they are saved do not exhibit the graces of the Holy Spirit.

Though there may be a moment of conscious commitment, salvation is not an event such as this:

“I’m saved!”

“What do you mean?”

“I went forward at the pastor's invitation in church, and I prayed the sinner’s prayer and asked Jesus into my heart.”

"Did you leave your heart open long enough for Him to come in? Are you letting Him establish Himself as the Lord of your life? Are you living a crucified lifestyle?

Churches that fail to make disciples create conditions in which "saved" people become disillusioned. Without discipleship training, the fruits of the Spirit and the joy of service are lacking. Christ's presence in the life of the individual is not evident.

What must disciple-making churches do to overcome this problem?

1. Teach that salvation is about being justified by faith in the Son of God, and justification involves obedience.

2. Teach the Bible from cover to cover and encourage daily Bible reading and memorization. The disciple is to be formed and informed by the Bible.

3. Connect new believers to mature believers with whom they can fellowship and grow in the Faith.

4. Remind new believers that repentance is an on-going attitude of the heart. For "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation..." (2 Cor. 7:10)

5. Do not place legalistic burdens upon the new believer. Instead, emphasize that the life of the disciple is characterized by purity, humility, generosity, steadfastness, patience, and service.

6. Teach a crucified lifestyle. The crucified lifestyle is not another legalistic work, but the exchange of the corrupting ways of the old life for the life of the Spirit that dwells within. 

7. Teach that the disciple's life is grounded in prayer.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Why Jesus' Disciples Didn't Recognize Him as Messiah


Why didn't Jesus' closest disciples recognize that He is the fulfillment of the Messianic expectation of their Hebrew ancestors? Here are some possible explanations:

1. The Lord’s working with His first disciples was a progressive revelation of who and what He is. His glory is such that we are granted glimpses until such a day that we are ready for His eternal kingdom. A.W. Tozer explained, "God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which he must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.”

Hebrews 1 speaks of this: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”

2. Jesus did not fit what the disciples expected of a Messiah who would liberate the Jews from Roman rule. The zealots of their day perpetuated a hope of a military leader who would throw off Roman domination and restore the glory of Israel under the Davidic Dynasty.

3. The Disciples were self-absorbed. Their preoccupations kept them from seeing the truth. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "Self-denial means knowing only Christ, and no longer oneself. It means seeing only Christ, who goes ahead of us, and no longer the path that is too difficult for us. Again, self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him.”

4. The teachings of the rabbis had obfuscated the faith of their early Hebrew ancestors who expected one of their own to be conceived by divine overshadowing, to die and rise on the third day, and to be God incarnate. Instead, the rabbis focused on the Jewish narrative which diminished belief in the Son of God. This is why Jesus posed the riddle of Psalm 110:1 - "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Jesus called on Psalm 110:1 as His Witness: “If David then called him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matthew 22:45)

5. Some aspects of Jesus' life and ministry were purposely hidden. The Gospel of Mark attempts to keep Jesus’ identity as Messiah and the Son of God a secret. This so-called “Markan mystery” is about the hidden Son, who commanded his followers to keep silent about his identity. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus' identity is recognized in the ancient island city of Tyre, not on a mountain as in Matthew's Gospel. For Mark, the Messiah’s appearing means the beginning of the restoration of Paradise. Perhaps the evangelist was thinking of this passage from Ezekiel 28 – “Son of Man, raise a lament over the king of Tyre and say to him: Thus says the Lord God: You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and flawless beauty. You were in Eden, in the Garden of God; every precious stone was your adornment... and gold beautifully wrought for you, mined for you, prepared the day you were created."

The theme of the hidden is expressed in the Seder. The three matzahs are enveloped and the middle one is broken and hidden from the others. It is found after a search and returned to its natural group. The three matzahs are called the Unity, but we might as appropriately refer to the unity as Three in One, or a Trinity.

Clement of Alexandria (150-215 A.D.) believed that the writers of scripture practiced a "prophetic and venerable system of concealment." He explained: "For many reasons the scriptures conceal their meaning; primarily, with the aim of making us diligent and unresting in our study of the words of salvation and, secondly, because it is not in the province of all men to examine their meaning, lest they should receive hurt through a mistaken interpretation.” (Clement of Alexandria by R.B. Tollinton. 1914. Volume II, p. 302.)

The curious seek to know. They investigate what is veiled. The Creator invites us to draw closer to the mysteries hidden in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:26; Ephesians 3:6). The pattern of hidden sons in Scripture points to Jesus Christ, the Son hidden in the Father's bosom from before the ages. He inherits the kingdom that is not of this world and of his kingdom there will be no end.

5. The disciples had not yet received the gift of the Holy Spirit to illumine them and to give them the courage to proclaim the Gospel.