The grace of God is a fundamental concept in Christianity, and it refers to the unmerited and undeserved favor that God shows to humanity. This grace is often associated with the gift of salvation, which is available to all who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This gift of salvation is not something that can be earned or bought, but it is freely given by God to those who accept it in faith.
This veil, or curtain, separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the Jewish temple at Jerusalem. Only the high priest was allowed behind this curtain, and he could go into the Most Holy Place only once a year-on the Day of Atonement-to offer sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people (Lev 16:34).
John the Baptist set himself apart from the normal lifestyle of his world to do what God had called him to do. He did not drink alcohol or cut his hair. He lived in one of the harshest desert environments in the world, dressing primitively and eating simply. Yet people flocked into the desert to see this unusual man and hear his powerful message. When they arrived, they saw a man dressed like Elijah, the premier prophet of Israel hundreds of years earlier. His speech was harsh, clear, and penetrating.
While Jesus was teaching near the temple, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who was accused of adultery. Under the Old Testament law, death by stoning was the prescribed punishment for any person who committed this sin.
No one knows. Jesus’ reasons for delay are not explained here. We can only surmise that a higher purpose-higher than saving people from physical death-caused Jesus not to go with immediate haste to His friend’s side. That purpose was surely the one that Jesus had come to fulfill: saving people from spiritual death, that is, from eternal separation from His loving heavenly Father.
Though Lazarus was raised miraculously, he did die later. So did Mary and Martha, the disciples, and all of Jesus’ closet friends. Jesus did not come to spare His loved ones the experience of physical death but to show them the path to eternal life.
We also find Jesus using the perceptions linked with tax collectors to jolt the Jewish leaders from their complacency. While he was teaching in the temple courts during the final week of his life on earth, Jesus frequently clashed with the Jewish leaders, who questioned his authority and resisted his invitations to know him as their Savior from sin.
During the Roman era, tax collectors and the manner in which taxes were collected evolved and varied from one region to the next. Here we offer a general picture of the process that will allow us to appreciate the role tax collectors played in the Gospels. Taxes were paid to both the temple and the state, each of which established its own tax code without consideration of the other. First-century Jews paid a religious tithe of their produce, herd, and flock (Lev 27:30-32); they were also required to pay the half-shekel or two-drachma tax for sanctuary upkeep (Exod 30:13; Matt 17:24). The state demanded taxes that included a poll tax levied on males fourteen to sixty-five years of age and females twelve to sixty-five, real estate tax, customs tax collected at road and harbor stations, a tax on produce that amounted to 10 percent on grain and 20 percent on wine, fruit, and oil, a 1 percent income tax, and sales and inheritance taxes.
To be entirely and blatantly truthful in everything we say could unnecessarily hurt a lot of feelings and create a lot of worries. Thus, in everyday conversation we say “white lies” about someone’s appearance or even about our own state of health.
These laws sound rigid and austere in their proclamations, and we cannot say for sure how often this particular punishment was employed. What we can say for sure is that exceptions were allowed, as illustrated by Jesus. He did not demand that the woman caught in adultery be executed but instead disarmed her executioners and urged her to leave her lift of sin (John 8:3-11).