The Two Witnesses
John the Baptist was in the spirit and power of Elijah he witnessed to Jesus being the Messiah.
Using the Revised Standard Version (RSV) Bible.
Visual Aids are used in this talk.
A Cross is made of textile material large enough to accommodate items on the following list.
Picture with Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus
Picture of Fortress of Antonia
Picture with Jesus on the cross
Picture of man at ‘Gate Beautiful.’
Picture of the Dispersion
Mustard seed or picture of Mustard tree
Picture Gas boiler
These are placed inside the cross.
Each one is pulled out in turn and its significance explained.
The verses of scripture can be handed out and read at the appropriate time.
Material large enough to accommodate the largest object. (An A3 piece of paper would be quite large enough)
A piece of cloth is cut to form two crosses and then sewn together along the dotted lines. This cross does not have an image of Jesus on it, as Jesus is risen.
Leave open the four ends to enable the objects to be placed inside the cross and pulled out at the appropriate time.
The cross a place of change, a cross roads.
Life is often described as a journey and at some point we may be challenged to take a step of faith in the direction of Jesus.
When my children were learning to swim they wore water wings. They put their faith in them to keep them afloat. It was hard for them to take the water wings off and start to swim without them.
It is easier to put your faith into some thing that you can see or touch, than to have faith in God who you can not see or touch. To take that step of faith isn’t easy, it is like swimming without the water wings. When we step out in faith we find it works, we are upheld, and supported by God.
Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus
Observing the rituals of the law Joseph and Mary went to the temple for Mary’s purification which was 40days after the birth of Jesus. Leviticus 12
Also they were presenting their first-born child, Jesus, to the Lord, to be consecrated to God. God declared “For the first-born are mine.” Numbers 3: 15
Simeon and Anna. Two witnesses.
Some time earlier the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that before he died he would see the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2:22
On the day Joseph and Mary took Jesus into the temple, Simeon lifted Jesus up in his arms and by the Holy Spirit he knew that this baby boy was the promised Saviour of Israel and also of the Gentiles. (In the Bible there are only two groups of people the Jews and the Gentiles.)
Simeon praised God for fulfilling his promise to him with these words:
Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace;
according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.”
Luke 2: 29-32.
At the same hour another person came into the temple, Anna the prophetess. Luke records in his gospel that Anna she witnessed to others present that Jesus was the Messiah the one who would redeem Jerusalem.
The Messiah would redeem Jerusalem from the Roman occupational army. The Fortress of Antonia was formerly a palace and was adjacent to the temple. A tunnel connected it into the Jewish Courts of the temple and stairs to the Court of the Gentiles, giving Roman soldiers immediate access into the temple.
Fortress of Antonia
The Messiah’s future reign over Rome and the nations. “Ask of me, and I will make nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them to pieces like a potters vessel. Now therefore, O Kings, be wise be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling kiss his feet lest he be angry, and you perish in the way for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 2: 8-11
John the Baptist heralded the news of Messiah’s coming
John the Baptist proclaimed a baptism of repentance in preparation for the Messiah’s kingdom being established. John witnessed that Jesus was the Messiah. “And they came to John the Baptist, and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, ”No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.” John 4:26-28.
Jesus identified John the Baptist as Elijah. “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He, who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11: 13-15. Malachi 4: 5. Luke 1: 17.
Also John records in his gospel, “Jesus said, “There is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true. You sent to John (Baptist) and he has borne witness to the truth . . . But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing bear witness that the Father has sent me.” John 5: 32.
Under Law the testimony of two witnesses is true.
John the Baptist bore witness to Jesus with his baptism in preparation of the coming kingdom of God. God bore witness to Jesus that he was the Messiah in the works, healing and miracles that he did. John the Baptist did not do any signs. John 10: 41
“Jesus said, “In your law it is written that the testimony of two men is true I bear witness to myself and the Father, who sent me bears witness to me.” John 8: 17.
“The Messiah’s Secret.” page 83
“As the people watched Jesus dying on the cross someone shouted, ’Lets see if Elijah will come and take him down.’ Mark 15: 36. They expected Elijah to come at the Passover, he was to come and announce the Messiah’s arrival. The man who shouted wanted to see if Elijah would come and rescue Jesus before he died and proclaim him as the Messiah, then they would believe in him. “Come down from the cross and we will believe in him,” said the chief priests, scribes and elders.”
“At the Passover table a place is set for Elijah, the herald of the Messiah, and he would announce that the Messiah had at last come. For the rabbis say the Messiah is most likely to come on the night of the Passover, so the traditional cup and an empty chair awaits him.”
It is not surprising that the people were not aware that Elijah had already come because John himself was puzzled by Jesus, why he did not proclaim himself as the Messiah? John the Baptist had identified Jesus as the Messiah to his own disciples.
John the Baptist sent his disciples to enquire from Jesus was he the Messiah? Jesus responded by showing them the signs, the blind had received their sight, the lame walked, lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, the dead were raised up and the poor had the gospel preached to them. Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah’s ministry was partially fulfilled by Jesus.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book.” Luke 4: 18, 19.
He stopped half way through verse two, he did not say the remaining words which are significant. “And the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.” Isaiah 61: 2
John the Baptist was expecting the Messiah to Bring in the Day of Vengeance. “His winnowing fork in his hand, clearing his threshing floor, and gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he would burn with unquenchable fire, the unquenchable fire of the Day of Vengeance, judgement. Luke 3:16,17.
The Messiah’s secret Jesus had to fulfil the cost of redeeming us from sin on the cross before he could bring in the Day of Vengeance. This did not allow Jesus to make it widely known that he was the Messiah.
A word I was given on 30th May 1996 was that, “The disciples were setting up the kingdom in at the beginning of Acts.” It was as I understood to be in preparation for Jesus’ return with the angels of God. Mark 8:38
The disciples of Jesus were expecting Jesus to return soon, because he had said, “There are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power. ”Mark 9:1. Luke 9: 27.
Times of Refreshing.
“When the disciples were together just before Jesus’ ascension, they asked him if he would restore at this time the kingdom to Israel? Would he bring in the times of refreshing, the restoration of the throne and land of King David, the Messiah’s reign?
Jesus’ response, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all in Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1: 6-8
The Healing of the man at Gate Beautiful
At Pentecost for the first time the disciples proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. Shortly afterwards Peter and John were going up to the temple to pray. As they came to the ‘Gate Beautiful’ were asked for alms from a crippled man who begged there regularly. Peter looked at him and said to him I have no money, but in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, ‘Walk.’ Peter took the man’s hand and as he rose up from the ground because his feet and ankles were strengthened. The man jumped up and began to walk and leap praising God. As the crowd gathered Peter gave testimony to the resurrection of Jesus and announced that they and their rulers had crucified Jesus in ignorance. If they would repent, the Lord would bring in the times of refreshing and send Jesus the appointed Messiah.
After saying this Peter and John were arrested and later brought before Caiaphas and others to be questioned. Peter and John witnessed to the resurrection of Jesus and that this man had been healed at ‘Gate Beautiful’ in Jesus’ name. Before they were released Caiaphas instructed them not to speak or teach in Jesus’ name. (To be found in Acts 3 and 4)
For several years the Christian community met in Jerusalem, witnessing to Jesus’ resurrection and that he was the Messiah.
“A great many priests were obedient to the faith.” Acts 6: 7
After Stephen’s death the persecution of Christians began.
The Dispersion of the Jerusalem Community of believers.
“And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles. Those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” Acts 8: 1.
Kingdom authority was exercised by the Apostles in preparation of Jesus’ return.
In Acts 8: 4 – 24 we read that after the dispersion, Philip travelled to the city of Samaria and proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ.
Simon the Sorcerer was a prominent man in the city of Samaria, he was highly esteemed by the Samaritans for performing magic. He seduced the people into thinking that he was more than just a man, but a god.
“Ancient ecclesiastical writers say that Simon claimed he was the father who gave the law to Moses that he came in the reign of Tiberius in the person as the son: that he descended upon the disciples at Pentecost in flames of fire; that he was the Messiah, the Paraclete, and Jupiter and the woman who accompanied him called Helena was Minerva, or the first intelligence.” Notes from Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible
The Bible makes it quite clear from both Old and New Testaments that engaging in Sorcerery (Witchcraft) is not to be practiced.
“Any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an auger, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord.” Deuteronomy 18: 10-12.
“The Adversary” by Mark I Bubeck. 1975 “Witchcraft – This sin of the flesh springs from our desire to contact the relate to the mysterious spirit world. In rebellious curiosity, we desire to learn the mysteries of the unseen world in a manner other than that revealed by God in His Word. This fleshly sin of witchcraft includes the whole occult realm. Ouija boards, tarot cards, séances, spiritism, levitation, astrology, the pendulum, and such like tools of this sin.”
St. Paul includes sorcerers (witchcraft) in his list “Now the works of the flesh are plain; fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcerers, strife, coveting, those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5: 19, 20. These words of Paul still apply to Christians today.
“Jesus said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed which a man sowed in his garden; it grew and became a tree and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” Luke 13: 18, 19.
The seed of faith is sown in the heart, in the garden of a persons’ life. The birds which represent principalities and powers of darkness if allowed will come and build nests in the branches of our tree.
If we take onboard some of the New Age philosophises and practices they become nests, strongholds in our spiritual life.
During my life time I’ve seen a rise in popularity of “New Age” spirituality. It takes spiritual elements from an assortment of religions from all over the world.
In our shopping Arcades and town centres, New Age shops promote books, games and on T.V. drama and films.
Wikipedia “The New Age (also referred to as the New Age Movement, New Age spirituality, and Cosmic Humanism) is a decentralized Western social and spiritual movement that seeks “Universal Truth” and the attainment of the highest individual human potential. It includes aspects of Occultism, astrology, esotericism, metaphysics, alternative medicine, music, collectivism, sustainability, and nature. New Age spirituality is characterized by an individual approach to spiritual practices and philosophies, and the rejection of religious doctrine and dogma.
New Age practices and philosophies sometimes draw inspiration from major world religions: Buddhism, Chinese folk religion, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism; with particularly strong influences from East Asian religions, Gnosticism, Neopaganism, New Thought, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Universalism and Western esotericism. Additional terms for the movement include ‘All is One’ and ‘Mind, Body-Spirit.’”
Spiritual Health check The Manchester Diocese Healing Diocesan Day on the 4th October 2008 the guest speaker was Rev Beatrice Brandon the Healing Advisor of Archbishop’s Canterbury and York and one of the two co-editors of the ‘A Time to Heal’ Report.
As part of ‘A Time to Heal’ report Beatrice had contacted 90 Contemporary and Alternative Medicine establishments, she discovered that many were ‘New Age’ or coming from Eastern religions. On each one she did an analysis, finding out what the therapies and treatments were, how much people paid for them.
In one of the afternoon sessions as Beatrice Brandon spoke, a lady present stated that she was a Reiki practitioner and during one of her procedures she had a vision of Jesus, which resulted in her starting to attend an Anglican Church. She asked Beatrice was it possible to continue with her Reiki practice? Beatrice’s reply was ‘How can you equate Reiki symbols you use with Christian beliefs?’ The ladies response was that she didn’t want to give up her ‘powers.’ Later at the Communion service this lady came forward for anointing and the laying on of hands for healing.
Beatrice remarked on how people coming to church after having therapy treatments are shaped in their beliefs regarding the healing ministry so when they attend a church to receive healing in most cases they first have to go through a process of undoing the methodology of the practitioner. Beatrice concluded with guidance for any Christian seeking or being offered Contemporary and Alternative Medicine, ‘Always research the background, studying and reflecting upon the ways organizations and practitioners present their position, in order to understand their point of view on health and healing and approaches they offer and to discern where there may be differences between their understanding and Christian doctrine and teaching.’ (Taken from Resources for Training. B. Brandon)
Jesus’ baptism of repentance for forgiveness for sin and the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Simon was amazed at the signs and great miracles that were performed by Philip and when he heard the gospel from Philip he believed and was baptised.
Jesus’ Baptism of Repentance glimpsed in Book of Exodus
During the Israelites wilderness journey we see a glimpse of Jesus’ baptism of repentance. After crossing the Red Sea the Israelites 600,000 people began their journey towards the promised land, the land of Canaan. After travelling through the wilderness of Shur for three days they had run out of water. When they came to Marah, they found to their dismay, that the water there was bitter and undrinkable. Due to this they murmured against Moses. He cried out to God for his help. God told Moses to throw a tree into the water and the water became sweet and drinkable.
Exodus 15: 22 – 25
Jesus’ Baptism of Repentance
The bitter water of sin.
The tree, the cross where sin was dealt with by Jesus.
The sweet water of sins forgiven.
Water Baptism whether it is by sprinkling or immersing in water. It is making an outward expression, a public declaration, of accepting Jesus as Saviour. It is also were a person is crucified with Christ, in dying to sin through confession of sin against God, our heart is washed clean with the sacrificial blood of Christ. We are raised up in the likeness of Jesus’ resurrection.
Water speaks of the Holy Spirit. John 7: 37 On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, “Jesus said, “Is there anyone thirsty, then let them come to me and drink.” He spoke of the Holy Spirit who would be poured out after his resurrection and ascension.
The Holy Spirit is part of having faith in Jesus.
To enable the central heating system to work the pilot light is lit. The Holy Spirit responds to our faith in Jesus, he quickens our spirit when we have accepted Jesus as our Saviour. At some point on our Journey of faith we are empowered by the Holy Spirit for service and it is like the central heating coming on, ‘Whoosh.’
My sister Irene had already made a commitment of faith to follow Jesus, (her pilot light lit) and when three of her children were baptised at St. Gabriel’s Anglican Church, Manchester, England, she received the gift of the Holy Spirit empowering her for service. (It was like the central heating coming on.)
The Holy Spirit received through the laying on of hands
The Christians at Samaria had been baptised by Philip, however the gift of the Holy Spirit had not been given. Peter and John came from Jerusalem to pray for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the gift of the Holy Spirit was received through the laying on of hands he wanted to buy the ability, the power to lay his hands on people to receive the Holy Spirit.
In 1980 I regularly attended a Friday night prayer meeting, it was at one of these meetings that I received the gift of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. The Vicar at the time had the gift of praying for people to receive the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. At least forty people if not more were blessed by his ministry, and as a result we were empowered for service within the body of believers.
Scripture teaches us that we should not lay hands on a person without seeking their permission first. 1 Timothy 5: 22
The laying on of hands at a Confirmation service is where the church seeks to give the gift of the Holy Spirit to a believer, like those Christians at Samaria.
It is also confirms membership of the church of England.
The Messiah’s Secret – page 111“Simon the man who wanted to buy the power to lay hands on people to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter said to him, “Your silver perish with you, because you thought that you could obtain the gift with money!” Peter told him to repent, Simon was afraid that something might happen to him, so he said to Peter, “Pray for me, to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” Peter forgave Simon.
Jesus the corner stone, everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on anyone it will crush them. The ruling rod of iron, sin and the causes of sin will be rooted out.” Psalm 2: 9. Isaiah 8: 14, 15. Mark 9: 42-50. 11: 12-14, 20. Matthew 15: 13. Matthew 13: 41, 42. 1 Corinthians 15: 24, 25. Revelations 19: 15.
Disciples commissioned by Jesus Simon was afraid that Peter’s words had the power to pass judgement upon him because on the evening of the Day of the Resurrection, when the Apostles were gathered together in the house in Jerusalem. Jesus came and stood in the midst of them. He said to them, “Peace be with you,” Their restless hearts must have calmed in a moment with Jesus presence entering into the room.
On one occasion I took a pottery order to the home Sister Irenie Mary, an Anglican Nun in Blackburn. On entering her house she greeted me and the peace of the Lord flowed out from her. It was a memorable moment.
Jesus calmed the Apostles fears with his greeting and proceeded to instruct them, sending them out with the good news of his resurrection and giving them the power to retain the sin of anyone and also the power to forgive the sins of anyone. Peter carried this out with devastating effect when he retained the sins of Ananias and his wife Sapphira. They were members of the Christian Community that met in Jerusalem. They had sold a piece of land and the proceeds they were giving to the community. However they kept some money back and when they gave the money they lied as to the amount that they had received from the sale. Peter spoke to them individually about it. Peter first of all told Ananias that he had lied not to a man but to God and he fell down and died on the spot. The same thing happened to his wife. Sin and the causes of sin had been rooted out by Peter. They both had been crushed by the stone.
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken.
Peter response was decisive which brought condemnation and a Godly fear on Simon. Simon fell on the stone and was broken, humbled, he repented of wanting to buy the power to enable people to receive the Holy Spirit through him.
Asking Peter to pray for him meant that Simon was willing to lay down his pride, which for him was a big change, as he had exalted himself over the people of Samaria.