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Jesus Taught Outdoors

Lambert Dolphin with Lawrence Hoppis
No church buildings existed in the Western world until the time of Constantine. My friend Glenn Miller ( noted that when the Roman Emperor became aware that so many of his constituents had become Christians that he ought to make Christianity the authorized state religion of the Roman Empire, displacing the old world order of the Roman pantheon of gods. It is was not all roses in those days, Christianity spread throughout the early Roman Empire, with many terrible persecutions due to conflicts with the then-pagan state religion.
Constantine’s disastrous decision in 313 brought in a state religion which morphed into the Roman Catholic Church. Today about 1.3 billion people on earth are professing Catholics or about 17%. Long story!
Not only were there no church buildings until 300 AD, there were no amplifiers nor sound systems until the 1930’s! Very few Bibles existed until Gutenberg in 1455.
Think of the Shakespearean plays, the Vaudeville shows, the Operas (Light and Heavy), the Gettysburg Address, the great Greek and Roman Orators down through history, and Paul speaking on Mars Hill in Athens. How about the Commanders of great armies leading battles with only bugles and drums to set the cadence. All without sound systems and loudspeakers!
King Jehoshaphat pulled of a great victory over the Ammonites and Moabites by calling for a prayers meeting and singing. (See Jehoshaphat Defeats the Porn Kings,
“And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, destroying them utterly, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and behold, they were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take the spoil from them, they found cattle in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more.”
(2 Chronicles 20:1-33)
Many of us remember the dramatic Fall of Jericho! (Joshua Chapter 6) No shots fired.
"And the LORD said to Joshua: 'See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. “And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. “It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.'”
(Joshua 6:2-6)
In 2001 Glenn Miller and I we’re privileged to lead a tour group to Israel ( I’ll never forget visiting the Great Roman Amphitheaters at Caesarea and the one at Bet Shean. Both times we had the group sit everywhere in the theater while one of us took the stage and spoke. Sure enough, the audience heard every word clearly. Perfect acoustics.
 One amazing outdoor amphitheater lies at the North End of the Sea of Galilee 500 feet believe sea level in Northern Israel. A crowd of perhaps 10,000 men, women and kids probably followed Jesus there early in his public calling. (NOTE 1)

Sermon on the Mount

 The Sermon on the Mount occupies chapters 5, 6 and 7 of the Gospel of Matthew. The Sermon is set early in the Ministry of Jesus after he had been baptized by John the Baptist in chapter 3 of Matthew's Gospel, gathered his first disciples in chapter 4, and had returned from a long fast and contemplation in the Judaean Desert where he had been tempted by Satan to renounce his spiritual mission and gain worldly riches.

Before this episode, Jesus had been "all about Galilee" preaching, as in Matthew 4:23, and "great crowds followed him" from all around the area. The setting for the sermon is given in Matthew 5:1-2. Jesus sees the multitudes, goes up into the mountain, is followed by his disciples, and begins to preach. The Sermon is brought to its close by Matthew  which reports that Jesus "came down from the mountain followed by great multitudes". (Wikipedia)
Early in his forty years as a Bible expositor in Palo Alto California, the elders of PBC felt Ray Stedman should spend half of his time traveling, especially to train pastors in Expository preaching and Body Life. This meant Ray did not have time to teach through the entire Bible in his 40 years. He taught Mark and John verse by verse, and left us a wonderful synopsis of the entire Bible in “Adventuring Through the Bible.”
From the latter sermon series we have this from Ray about the Sermon on the Mount:
“Then, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins to put this same test to the nation Israel. Israel had been chosen of God through the centuries to be his channel of communication with humanity, and they had regarded themselves as his favored people. Now the nation is to be put to the test, in the Gospel of Matthew, as to whether they can pass the same test our Lord did. This is the essential story of Matthew. He is tracing how the Son of God God's King came into the world, and offered himself to be King of Israel, first on the level of the physical, then on the level of the soul. When he was rejected on both these levels, he passed into the realm of the mystery of the human spirit. In the darkness and mystery of the cross, he accomplished the redeeming work that would capture man again for God, body, soul, and spirit."

"Redemption, therefore, begins with the spirit. That's why the work of Christ in our own hearts -- though we may be attracted to him on the level of the body. for the supply of physical need; or on the level of the soul, for the need of self-expression and improvement in our lives -- will never really change us until it has reached the level of the spirit, the place of basic worship, wherein we have committed ourselves, body, soul, and spirit, unto him. Then the change begins to show.
Now you see this worked out in the Gospel of Matthew, with the nation Israel as the recipient. The first ministry begins, as we saw, in chapter four, with the mark, "From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,'" (Matthew 4:17 RSV). Then follows the Sermon on the Mount, where we have the presentation of the King and the laws of the kingdom. This covers the rest of chapters four, and five through seven. In these rules of the kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount there is an obvious emphasis on the physical life. Notice this as you read through it the next time."

"This is one of the most penetrating, most incisive messages ever set before human beings, but it approaches us on the level of our ordinary, physical, material life. There are two physical sins dealt with murder and adultery. The life of God is illustrated for us in the realm of giving alms and of fasting physical acts. God is offered to us as One who so cares for us that we do not need to think of tomorrow how to be fed, how to be clothed the worries that come to us on the physical level. Our Lord is saying, "If you discover me and receive me as your King, you will discover that I am the answer to all your physical needs." He is offering himself to the nation, and to us, on this level.“

NOTE 1: This is the period of high popularity in our Lord's ministry. You can see how it is introduced in the opening paragraph:
"Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed; also from Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from about Tyre and Sidon a great multitude, hearing all that he did, came to him."
(Mark 3:7-8 RSV)

I think we have difficulty grasping the size of this crowd. This was not just a few people, or a few thousand. There were literally tens of thousands of people, undoubtedly, in this crowd. They came from all over this country -- from Galilee, from Judea, which began fifty miles to the south, from Jerusalem, the capital of Judea some seventy miles south of the Sea of Galilee, and beyond that from the land of Idumea, or Edom, way down in the southern desert, and from the region east of the Jordan River stretching out into the Arabian Desert, and from the west clear to the Mediterranean coast and up the coast to Tyre and Sidon, the area now in the country of Lebanon -- from throughout this entire area they came. They flocked out from all the cities to hear this amazing prophet who had risen in Galilee and was saying such startling things.

You can see how Mark traces the emphasis upon the crowd throughout this division. In Verse 20, he says, "and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat." Then in Verse 32, "a crowd was sitting about him..." And in Chapter 4, Verse 1: "Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him..." And then, in Verse 36, Mark says, "And leaving the crowd," they went across to the other side of the lake. In Chapter 5, Verse 21: "And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him..." And in Verse 24: "And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him." So this is the period when Jesus is pressed by the great masses of people, the period of his greatest popularity.

For many, this has been the symbol of Jesus' success, as it would be for many in evaluating a person today. Anybody who can get a great crowd following him is regarded as a success. We have all kinds of people who do that. We call them "stars" there are star actors, star athletes, star singers, star politicians various people who have attained what in our day is a mark of success. No wonder the title of one of today's most popular musicals is Jesus Christ, Superstar. He is the one who drew all these great multitudes out from the cities of his day.

But as you read this account through, you see that Mark's intention is to underscore the weakness of popularity, the empty, hollow worthlessness of being popular, and how much damage and danger popularity produced in our Lord's ministry... We will see three false and always hindering effects which are invariably produced when a movement becomes popular. They are a warning for us. Popularity produced them in the days of Jesus and popularity produces them today. (Ray Stedman)

Lawrence Hoppis Writes:

As long as I have known Lambert, he has had one single defining drive – and that is to put Jesus in charge of his life and work daily, to know and share Jesus personally as his savior and risen Lord. (Yes  – I am a kind of newcomer, not having known Lambert in his before-Christ life!) The heart and singleness-of-person Jesus returns to a life lived exclusively for Him becomes evident. I am certain each and every one of you who has met and known Lambert's exchanged life can easily recognize this quality in him.  We have known and seen Jesus in Lambert as an enormous capacity to outreach on behalf of his faith which testifies to the rewards of long-term devotion and singleness of purpose for Jesus.
When it comes to knowing Jesus personally, He gives us His spirit to impart the same kind of life and works which he had in himself and has prepared for us to do through Him. What are you going to personally long-term be devoted to and willing to be single for?
"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."
(John 14:12)
Where do our lives exhibit these same, exact qualities? We can see these as the outcomes of faith in Jesus wherever they exist. Once we have put our whole faith and trust in Jesus, we begin to seek His glory, and then a supernatural kingdom life begins to burst forth. Jesus on display in us... in our changed lives, our changed devotions, our changed singleness of purpose, Let this be our goal today and always!

Lambert Writes: I answer almost all of my email personally. I am neither an organization nor a “ministry.” Anything I write is free. I want to avoid being known as just another “peddler.”
The Feeding of the Five Thousand
The Seven Churches in New Jerusalem
The Management of the Universe
Israel’s Covenant with Death
The Ruthlessness of God
Strike the Shepherd


Lambert has been recently experiencing a severe shortfall in donations and very much appreciates every generosity which allows him to live and minster here on planet earth. As much as Jesus did it, Lambert is not sure at 88 that he wants to begin teaching outdoors! : )



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Lambert Dolphin / Lawrence Hoppis · 1103 Pomeroy Ave. · Santa Clara, CA 95051 · USA

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