Creating a Mandala

Images that to speak to us are powerful.  When we stop to pay attention to these images, it is like coming home.  Images that speak to us whether a piece of music, a special place, a person or picture are powerful reminders that we are on the path of wholeness.  Mandalas are images, patterns of art arranged within a circle.


The Mandala is a symbol of the self and a movement toward a goal.  Teresa of Avila imagined an image of a crystal castle with many rooms where the soul enters as it draws near to God. The image of a dwelling place has a focus on the center.  It is a vision of a large picture toward a goal.

The pilgrimage begins in the beauty of God’s Creation.  Flowers, fields, and hills.   We know that He is God when we notice His work.  The powerful image of God’s love is in the creative work that surrounds His people.  God created a home for those He loves. What things do you create? Who is it that receives what you are you creating?


Mountains and a red sky.  Perhaps, the crossing of the red sea.  The Israelites racing to run from the Egyptians, they faced the obstacle of the read sea, surely they would perish.     God saved them.  How has God saved you when you have passed through uncertainty? Did you take His hand?

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls,”  (Matthew 13:45-46 New International Version) Seeking the Kingdom of Heaven is looking for the richness of the indwelling Spirit in humanity. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  (Matthew 7:7) Have you requested the intimacy of the Kingdom?  Are you seeking for the fine pearls, communion with God and the saints in God’s Kingdom?


The mandala’s center is the goal, the primary focus of the journey, the movement toward the center is involved in all our decision making.  The place where the human and divine meet.  What images are in your center?  Where is the place where you make all your decisions?

The world was created through the word, a sign of home, which are images of communication, a concert of music, all for the inner journey toward our Maker.  Reflect on your journey and create a mandala.


Creating a Mandala

The most important thing in creating a mandala is that it is spontaneous and that you do not stop to analyze your work.  And do not try and make a beautiful picture or force the outcome.


  1. Find a quiet place, perhaps play some music and ask God to join you in your creating.
  2. What colors are important to you?  Choose 2 or 3
  3. Begin in the Center or on the outer edge and follow your intuitive impulses and allow the drawing to begin.  No planning, just draw, or paint or paste.
  4. When you have finished step back and look at your mandala and journal your journey.


  1. Write five or six descriptions names for each color and reflect on the associations with the colors.  What are your insights, feelings, memories?
  2. Describe the patterns, lines and shapes, and spaces?  What road blocks or forbidden zones, or other experiences have you encountered?
  3. Is there a central theme that is coming to surface.  Write the idea from the thoughts you have journaled.


“And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” Revelation 21:21



Sacred Space for Prayer and Art


The pines, under the umbrella of two large pines, are a blanket hiding place. A favorite, natural castle surrounded by the art of the Master Creator is a place of quiet rest.


Favoirte Place 


1020’s door with a porcelin handle
















“What are you going to do with that door?” My husband replied.

“I don’t know yet.” I shrugged.

Twelve years or more ago I was given a 10-glass panel 1920’s door. The door was salvaged from a cottage on Three Rivers in Michigan and leaned up against the wall in my room.

I remembered when I picked up ferry glass on the beach of Lake Michigan. I collected the broken glass smoothed by the waves and sand of Lake Michigan. The cobalt blue is my favorite.

Broken colored glass is amazing when the light brightens the color in a soft glow. On a trip to England, I am attracted to the Cathedral’s glass windows. Each piece of glass is cut to fit precisely.

With broken stained glass and glass glue, I took the door and laid on our kitchen table and began to fix the glass to the windows on the door. I call this my art, my favorite way of praying in a contemplative movement of worship. The glass did not exactly fit, and I used crushed glass filled the crevices just as the lead separated the glass on the stain glass masterpieces in the England Cathedral


Top left window



Art Fest 2016

I entered the door in an art contest, Art Fest, and the won a place in the top ten.

“Now, what are you going to do with that door?”  My husband replied.

“I am going to build a sacred space in the backyard, and this is my front door,”  I said.

I collected the windows through various stops in Habitat for Humanity Restore.

In two weekends I measured and purchased wood and lay out my foundation, set on cement blocks.


Sacred Space 









Future Loft 






Hanging the Door






Unfinished Interior and Waiting for inspiration



The Hermitage January 2017



The Parable of the Blind

The Dutch inventive painter and remarkable draftsman, Pieter Bruegel the Elder was born in the Netherlands in the1520s. That is all that is known until Bruegel residency is recorded in Antwerp, Belgium in 1551, when he became a member of the Guild of Saint Luke, as a Master painter. Pieter Bruegel the Elder created art that portrayed the humanity of people living in the real world. “The Parable of the Blind” was the one of the last paintings he painted that is a biblical parable told by Jesus about the leaders in church, the Pharisees, who created rules that lead the common people away from God, just as the peasants were also lead astray in the 1500 and 1600s and how the people are lead astray today.

Western Europe was exploding in Humanism at the time of Pieter Bruegel’s birth in 1525 and Italy’s High Renaissance of arts and culture was winding down. Martin Luther created his Ninety-Five Thesis that upset the Catholic Church, claiming abuse of indulgence, which included practicing good works, prayer, visiting a certain place. Many thought that works lessened their sin. Religious Icons were destroyed in churches and public places, these iconoclastic riots, called Beeldenstorm, focused on destroying iconic art because these images were considered as idolatrous.

People buying art for the church stopped and mainly Protestant artist in the North, begin an era of Genre art, which is pictured scenes from life, such as landscape, domestic settings, parties, inn scenes, and street scenes. Genres were down-to-earth or imagined by the artist using mediums that included painting, genre prints, genre photographs, and other art mediums.  Bruegel’s drawing and paintings are considered Renaissance Flemish Baroque paintings, which is art from the Southern Netherlands during the 16th and 17th centuries. Bruegel’s paintings were an invention of moving away from the princes, queens, kings and wealthy divine paintings, to the life of the peasants. The common people caught the eye of Bruegel, possibly from the political and religious conflict that surround him in his world.

Political movements in the early1600s caused bitterness for the people living in the Netherlands, which most likely affected Bruegel’s art. However, there is not documentation of Bruegel’s political beliefs and the art work stands alone without the mysterious life story of Bruegel. Van Mander wrote in his book, Het Schilder-Boeck, that Bruegel requested from his wife that she destroy some of the drawings and paintings of his because the contents may cause trouble with the Catholic Church. Could this be an indication of his disagreement with the Catholic Church, although, Bruegel remained Catholic and this is known because his funeral was in the Catholic Church.

Bruegel moved from Antwerp to Italy in 1551 then back to Antwerp in 1554, fascinated by the Alps, he created landscape drawings in ink, perhaps, he also studied Italy’s great works of art. Hieronymus Cock, the owner of a publishing house called, Four Winds, partnered with Bruegel, who mastered in prints of landscapes and parables. Bruegel separated his work from the iconographic tradition paintings and sold many of his prints to the prominent humanist in Antwerp.

In Matthew 15, Jesus is teaching the disciples about what pollutes the life of the people. After speaking to the Pharisees and religion scholars on how they have used God to create their own rules, Jesus speaks the scripture in Isaiah 29:13:”These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” (Isaiah 29:13, Bible, New International Version, NIV) The disciples are concerned and wonder if Jesus realizes that he has upset the Pharisees.

Jesus answers the disciples, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:13-14, NIV) Jesus explains the parable as what comes from the heart of man spills from their month and it is evident what it is their heart. The sins of man make the man unclean. In other words, spiritual blindness follows the spiritually blind.


Bruegel wanted the peasants to know the real Jesus, the one who came for the weak and the poor.

Jesus then, tells the parable of the Canaanite women who’s daughter is terribly suffering from a demon. She begs for mercy and Jesus says that she has faith, the women called out to Jesus and recognized Him as the one who heal her daughter. Jesus came for the sick not the healthy, or those who considered themselves healthy as did the Pharisees. Perhaps, Bruegel painted his painting with beautiful peasants as a way to love the ones who were caught in following the rules of the church, blind to making their own choices with God. Blind to the ways in which they are invited to a personal relationship with Jesus. Therefore, it may be that Bruegel wanted the peasants to know the real Jesus, the one who came for the weak and the poor.

In the last recorded art that Bruegel painted one year before his death in 1568, tells the story of spiritual blindness. The painting named, The Parable of The Blind, or The Blind Leading the Blind is muted in hue, conveying a sorrowful tone of despair. The painting shows the sadness of the spiritual state of the blind men. The leader has fallen into the stream and it probably already dead and the next blind man is without hope, already falling into the pit, and the third is sure to follow the same fate, as with the fourth, fifth and sixth blind men. Each of the last four men has a hand on the shoulder of the blind man in front of the other. The third blind man has taken his hat off, with the sense that he is going down and desires to save his hat, not even thinking of crying out to Jesus, the only one who can save him.

The fourth man has his stick behind him, feeling the way of where he has been, instead of choosing to know where he is going, fully trusting the man ahead, instead of looking to Jesus as the gate and listening to God as his leader. The blind beggar line has been destined for forever death as they choose their fate. The imaginary lines of the row of blind men point to the edge of the pit, where there is no water. The path that they walk is dead, the grass and trees are dead.

A church in the horizon of the painting is identified as the Sint-Anna Catholic Church located in the village of Sint-Anna Pede in Itterbeek, Belgium. The name Sint-Anna Pede is named after a stream that flows through the village. The grass is green and a river flows with a horse drinking from the stream, animals are tended by a farmer not far from the line of the fallen blind. Does he see them? The farmer cannot save them, only a cry out to God will help them. The farmer has heard Jesus’ parable, “Leave them; they are blind guides.” (Matthew15:14, NIV)

Bruegel has given the parable life to those who suffer under the man-made rules that cause us to live in bondage

Bruegel has given the parable life to those who suffer under the man-made rules that cause us to live in bondage. These rules are tools to keep us away from God, away from crying out for help to our Lord, who is willing to take our hand before we fall into a dry barren pit. True life is the presence of green pastures and an ever flowing stream of living water. It may be that Bruegel intended to blame the political and religious mess and make them the blind men in his painting, I believe that the painting, as in all of the parables of Jesus, has something to say for today.

Today, many will follow other men is hope for a better life. People will follow political leaders who promise to make life great, they follow religious leaders who say everything is okay and we all need to just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and think positive. These are blind leaders who want to be great in the eyes of men. They teach the people in candy coated words, like in the book of Jeremiah, they cry peace, peace, but there is no peace, and the people believe them. Bruegel painted truth, and it did not matter what his political stance was because he pointed to Jesus.

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The Perfect Storm

The perfect Storm

I am stripped of the Clothes of worldly fashion
My bootstraps were stretched and fell to the floor
Along with everything false that I wore 
He was publicly stripped separated from community
Denied by a friend
Can you hear the rooster crow?
The world was not His home
Bricks flew from the hand of foes residing in friends
On each one was written my name
Breakfast at Tiffany’s “Joie de Vivre” fell to the end of my nose
Mocking dignity twisted a vine that was dead
Protruding with grand prongs of thorn
The Thruster jabbed the hat on His head
streaming vitality smothered adorn
The Proper stomped their processional march
Wearing insensible high heeled shoes
They poked and they prodded my unsheathed body
With the intent of fixing the blues
I scourged and I slashed Him till He was not recognized
He willing walked to the place
Where He would lovely die
Refusing the cup, I ungratefully heaped
Punishment on my head
It poured down my body as dripping Shame
Attempting to cover my pain 
He willing put out his hand and accepted the cup
Filled with my punishment
He clothed me with mercy and grace
His Ravishing Healing now tends the beautiful gate
                                                                                               Jennifer Oosterhouse 2013

Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son


One of Rembrandt’s finest paintings resides in the Hermitage Museum of art and culturein Saint Petersburg, Russia, “The Prodigal Son”. This is a biblical parable told by Jesus in the gospel of Luke about a father and his two sons. One of his son’s request his inheritance from his father and squanders the father’s gifts, while the older, responsible son stays home and lives a “good” life. The son, who leaves is now empty, tired and hungry and returns to his father, hoping to work as a hired hand and is received with forgiveness, love and compassion. Rembrandt depicts the emotional scene of the son’s return home where the light in the painting focuses on love and forgiveness. Rembrandt’s oil painting tells a magnificent story observed in the basic art elements, with understanding, aesthetic judgment, and a Christian Worldview response.

As my eyes fell upon the lit area of the painting, I noticed first the hands of the father, the straight left, firm hand and the right curved arm with a soft hand, this reminded me of balance, firm in the left hand and on the other right hand, soft, gentle, compassionate and slow to anger. The father kept his firm hand on his young son’s back and shoulder area, while his right hand covered across the grandeur of his son’s back, pronouncing forgiveness over firmness, forgiveness for the hurt and pain endured, while waiting for the return of his son.

My eyes fell upon the hue of lead-tin yellow in the prodigal son’s clothing that was in harmony with the yellow color in the father’s clothing underneath the tasseled red robe. This hue of yellow, during the Baroque is known as an association with sin, so it is simple to understand that the son would have only yellow covering his body, however the father wore the yellow under the red blood cloak, as though acknowledging his sins covered in the blood. I saw the trinity in Rembrandt’s Father, perhaps he resembled God, the symbol of sin covered in the blood of Christ, the glow of the Holy Spirit radiating the value of warm light and in the hands of God welcoming the young man home. The lead-tin color may have had the Christian symbol, according to “History of Painters,” yellow symbolized a remembrance of the spiritual world ; miracles, harmony, sustenance of the soul. The miracle of forgiveness certainly falls into harmony, sustenance of the soul. The meaning would be a brighter image for those who are Christian.

My vision scanned the clothing of the older son and I could not find a spot of yellow, in the same hue as the clothing worn by the father and the prodigal son. The older son is painted without the yellow as though he has no sin or claiming to have no sin. Forgiveness was not in his mind. Suppose, Rembrandt had painted a smudge of yellow somewhere, a possible sign of hope for older son.

My eyes scanned the form of the father’s long face with movement only on the left brow slightly furrowed, as if all the father’s prayers of love and concern remained above the left eye. The hue of yellow speckled in the frame of his face within the hairline, brows with dotted lines pointing out of his beard like a fan from his mouth. The three vertical lines on the father’s breast land on the top of the son’s head, this reminds me of the Trinity. The colors of the son’s head and the breast clothing of the father are the same, which melted the son’s head into the father’s breast. The two became one. The shadowing around the head of the son portrays a pressing of the head into the father. Such passion and movement of love was poured out in the hue of yellow and in light and darkness.

The elements of light and darkness, a chiaroscuro effect that beckons the viewer to imagine themselves in the parable and yearn for a place in the mystical light of the wayward son or father. The gradation of the darkness coming to light is a beautiful symbol of the true Father who never leaves us or forsakes us. He waits daily for us to come out of the darkness into the light, to hold us with His hands. The women, maybe the boy’s mother is quietly watching the embrace from the darkest corner may have wondered, how beautiful, or perhaps in thought of wonder.

Perhaps, the viewer may imagine themselves in the painting standing in the dark with fear and uncertainty of the light, maybe questioning, is forgiveness real? Possibly the older son is where one may imagine themselves. My eyes fell on the older son, I wonder, did he long for his father’s embrace? The servant and possible relative have a starry look of hope, were they thinking, “It is possible to come home,” as if they knew they were invited.

The red robe is elegantly draped in a uniform manner, settling on the older son’s shoulders. Perfectly folded are his closed hands, slightly touching the same spot on his breast in the place the younger son has held fast, pressing into his father’s breast. The older son bore the look of jealousy, reserved and not opened to his father or his brother, shown by his folded hands.

Baroque paintings like “The prodigal Son,” expressed drama and movement, that is evident in the expression in the prodigal son’s clothing. The folds of the garment brings life and the bare shoulder of the son exposed tells a story of the young man leaving his father to follow idols of prostitution, money and fame. The son was alive and redeemed, a good vision of the way our Father, God redeems His children through the blood of Jesus.

Response to this painting is run to the Father and fall into His arms, He is waiting for you. It is not so simple, it is evident in the older son who has been responsible, however he cannot see his own sin. The embrace of the Father is a balanced embrace, one of firmness and enormous love. A kind and compassionate, patient love that takes away our sins by the giving of his son to death on the cross. There is another response, a response to love the ugly, haters, the prostitutes, the ones who are difficult to love and to reach deep within ourselves for the truth that we have all walked away from God and allow the Spirit of God to transform us. The culture will be turned upside-down, as they witness the love of God that pours out through the people of God into the lives of the poor and hurting, the oppressed and worthless.


Mark Journal

The gospel of Mark begins with the radical, wild John the Baptist, “Proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mark 1:4, New International Study Bible)  The writer of this gospel, possible Mark, who wrote down the life of Jesus through the experiences of Peter begins writing, “Good News.”  In the same way it is unknown who the author was addressing, possibilities are the Gentiles who indeed would be grateful for the good news.  This makes sense in the simple way he tells the stories of Jesus, and the details he adds, like, the cushion where Jesus lays His head during the raging storm  a symbol of complete rest.  John Mark a friend of the Apostle Peter simplified the stories with emotion for the Gentles, whom lived without the Jewish history.    In the first eight chapters of Mark the identity of Jesus is Rabbi, teacher, and a servant to the people healing, casting out demons and evil spirits, He preaches and confronts opposition with authority.

The Identity of Jesus

The Gospel of Mark says Jesus is Teacher who has authority to command the unclean spirits, written in Mark 1:27 and the wind and sea obey Him in Mark 4:39, He rebuked the weather.    Mark addresses all these questions about who Jesus is, when he eats with the tax collectors. Disciples arguing for position, who is better, and Mark writes on how  the disciples again and again are not getting who Jesus is.  However, not until Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ is it somewhat clear to the disciples.

In Mark 1:11, after Jesus is baptized by John, a voice from heaven declares, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  It is clear the heavens know the identity of Jesus.  Later in Mark 1, after Jesus calls His disciples, a man with an impure spirit address Jesus, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:11, NIV)  The heavens and the demons know that Jesus is God. Jesus quiets the demon to keep His identity secret.  Jesus is known to the disciples as a teacher, until halfway through, in Mark 8:27-33, do we hear the story of Jesus asking Peter, “Who do you say I am?” and then Peter declares, “You are the Messiah.”  This when Jesus begins to share about the suffering and rejection that is to take place.

Core Issues of religious Rulers

The religious leaders rejected Jesus’ as the Messiah.  They continued to try and trip Him up with questions of authority.  The core issue of the religious rulers was the issue of power.  They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax[b] to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” (Mark 12:14-15, NIV)   The rulers asked a hot question,  an answer either way would show Jesus to choose sides in a political hot button on taxes.  However, Jesus takes a coin and inspects the in the inscription of Caesar and his picture.  “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.””  In Mark 1:23-26, 3:7-12, 5:1-20 and 9:14-19, show the rising hate conflict with the Scribes and Pharisees.

Main Themes of Mark

Mark 9 begins to point to Jerusalem and Jesus calls the disciples  to be at peace with each other. If they are not against us they are for us. Mark 10:44-45 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  Jesus will suffer and He tells His disciples, however, they do not understand, and sometimes avoid that there will be suffering.  Like when Peter began to rebuke Jesus in Mark 9.

Enduring hardship and suffering, and humility seem to be the theme in two ways.  The first way is how Mark shows the fumbling of the disciples and the need for humility  The disciples can’t get it right, they push the children away, they have no peace during the storm,  they have no faith in Jesus to feed the crowd of five thousand.  They do not understand His parables, and are unperceptive as in verses 4:41, 6:51-52; 8:14-21.  They betray Jesus when they fall asleep instead of pray, Judas sells Jesus for pieces of silver and Peter denies knowing Jesus. The disciples are focused on themselves, which is shown in verses, 8:32; 9:32–34; 10:35–41, and as they walk with Jesus they suffer not knowing, mocking, in their own sin.  Mark emphasizes the need to preserve and endure persecution.  Abiding in Jesus through the word of God in the book of Mark is the  Good News of triumph in hardships and in our sin.

Mark’s themes are tough, but they’re also rewarding. First, Mark highlights the need for humility. And second, it emphasizes the need to endure persecution. The good news is that Jesus’ life shows the triumph that comes from abiding by these themes—triumph for his disciples, and also, triumph for you.  The ending of Mark does not record the recovery of Peter or the reconciliation of the eleven with Jesus as in Matthew 28:18-20.  Mark does not have closure in a large, joyous sense,  perhaps it is in the suffering where Mark finds a deep joy that comes with tears and loss that surpasses the happy people in the world.  Everyone suffers and the book of Mark is a great gift.

Crucifixion and Resurrection

Mark emphasis the suffering of Christ is dramatic, because the disciples just don’t seem to acknowledge that Jesus will have to die.  Even when the woman comes in and empties the expensive perfume onto Jesus’ feet,  Jesus explains that she has anointed Him for His burial.  The disciples never ask Jesus, what He is talking about. The details of the suffering of Jesus and  abandoned by His friends and all the people is as if Mark watched and knew more of the suffering than the other gospel writers. In Mark 16:38,“The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”  The climax of the book of Mark is a declaration from a centurion, that Jesus is the Son of God.    It was in the death and suffering before Jesus had risen that it is proclaimed by not even someone who was close to Jesus, perhaps only heard of Him sees the truth.

Personal Reflection

Jesus has conflict with the Pharisees and Scribes and with demons, He suffers rejection, betrayal of a dear, loved friend, and suffers horrific slow painful death.  Jesus is near to the broken hearted, the one who suffers.  Jesus is near to those who are in conflict with others because of their faith.  Mark is a wonderful book, I think now my favorite one, because I loved how he weaved two stories into one,  the twelve year old who was dying and the women who had bled for years. I enjoyed the secrecy of His identity and the understanding of the disciples just not getting it.  Of course it relates to many today who read and know the stories, but do not get it yet.  It shows that it is okay not to get it and Jesus loves us even when they don’t get it, because we will not get it fully until we meet with Him again.

Matthew Journal


Mathew wrote the book of Matthew to enlighten the Jews to Jesus as the Messiah fulfilling the old testament prophecies.  Matthew must have had a large heart of love for his Jewish family, to write to them with care and creativity the prophecy of their new identity in Messiah.    The theme of Matthew pours from the heart of Matthew in obedience to love God with all your heart and Love kingdom people, The book of Matthew tells of the birth, Ministry, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Matthew prepares the Jewish people to receive Jesus with the story of His birth, including the genealogy in  Matthew 1:1-4:11 and tells the story of Jesus’ birth.  Here he recites prophecy from the prophet Isaiah in chapter seven verse fourteen, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin  will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel, (God with us).”  The Magi visit the toddler Messiah in Bethlehem and Matthew reminds the Jews where the prophet has written, “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for our of you will come a ruler, who will shepherd my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6 New International Version) The mission of Matthew to his neighbors and friends, the Jewish people must have excited to read the connecting prophecies announcing that Jesus is the Messiah.

The gospel of Matthew goes on to tell the stories of Jesus with the gift of Jesus’ words.  The words of Jesus enlighten the pages of Matthew and I wondered if Matthew had written them down as Jesus spoke.  Did he walk with Jesus with his writing tools or did he remember each word?  The message and ministry of the King are recorded in Matthew 4:12-25:46, so many stories of healing and teaching that begin after Jesus was baptized by John the baptist, and then lead by the Spirit and tempted in the wilderness.

Jesus taught that He did not come to abolish the law but fulfill it. Jesus taught that murder was more than the killing of the body, it was also killing the soul with anger.  The Sermon on the mound showed everyone guilty.  The law as Jesus’ words tell of a law that no one can keep, however the Pharisees added to the law in a way that made their traditions, law and Matthew wanted to write for the Jews who were working to keep up with the added law of the Pharisees.  The washing of hands before eating was a tradition that the Pharisees put into law written in Matthew 15.  All these added rules and regulations burdened the Jewish families.  Matthew shares his story of freedom that he left everything behind to follow Jesus.  (Matthew 9:9-13)

Like the Jews in Matthews day, people in the church carry extra rules and put those loads onto others in ways that make it seem that it is Biblical.  Matthew writes the stories of Jesus criticizing the Pharisees on how they presented themselves appear as perfect and sinless on the outside and wicked and cruel on the inside (Matthew 23).  This is a good word to the church today, as we work in our busy lives and ponder, how are we meeting with Jesus and cleaning out our insides?  In Matthew 9:9-12, the Pharisees segmented way of life ignored groups of people, with the baggage of only certain people belong, and taxpayers were out.  Jesus invites everyone to come and eats with the taxpayers.

No wonder that Matthew wrote so much about Jesus and the Pharisees,  he was a tax collector condemned by the Pharisees and accepted by Jesus.  Jesus walked passed the Pharisees and a Sadducee, who were the political and religious leaders, opened the gate and welcomed everyone.  The Pharisees were angry with Jesus, because they wanted to be God.  Matthew, welcomed by Jesus, knew God’s extravagant love, a love that is for everyone, including our enemies,“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  (Matthew 5:43-44, NIV)

The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven is described in collected in parables in  Matthew 13.  It is like a mustard seed, a man who sowed good seed, like a hidden treasure, like a net that was let down and caught lots of fish, these comparisons are treasures that are only seen by the one who sees the Kingdom.

Matthew 26:1-28:20 is the death and resurrection of Jesus where Jesus, who had no sin became the sacrifice for all of our sins that I could never erase on our own.  Jesus was betrayed by Judas for 30 pieces of coins, put on trial, beaten, crucified between two robbers.  Matthew proved the death of Jesus within the prophecy.  I believe that Jesus was born, murdered and resurrected and walk around seeing thousands of witnesses, however understanding the book of Matthew in all the prophecies proves Jesus is the Messiah, but without love, I cannot live the way Jesus lived.

When I compare my suffering with the suffering of Jesus, I belittle my suffering.  When I live through my suffering, feeling and knowing that Jesus, my God suffered and knows the pain, I live in the love of Jesus.  I love the cross as much as the resurrection both belong, because both are important for salvation, transformation and living in,  loving God, my neighbors and my enemies.

Matthew pulled the prophecies into the life of Jesus, he told his own story as an outcast transformed into a disciple, Matthew proved that Jesus was the Messiah.  God’s word is a precious read, each and every word is a light to hear God’s voice and live the way Jesus taught through His life.  I appreciate the book of Matthew more as I put myself in his shoes.