P1: Generally speaking, the “grace of God was upon” Jesus and He “increased…in favour with God” during this period. Here, divine judgment on Jesus is positive.
E1: The Messiah especially came to his people at His baptism. In association with this event was a powerful communication of judgement and salvation. John the Baptist declared, “Now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Matthew 3:10. He also exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29.
P2: This period spans the time between the baptism and the feeding of the five thousand. The language of the Gospels shows that it was especially during this period that Jesus and his disciples preached the gospel. Almost all references in the Gospels to gospel preaching are made in the context of this time period. Following are verses containing forms of the word preach in the chronological context of P2: Matthew 4:17, 23; 9:35; 10:7, 27; 11:1, 5; Mark 1:14, 38-39; 2:2; 3:14; 6:12; Luke 4:18, 43-44; 7:22; 8:1; 9:2, 6…twenty verses in total. Only three verses refer specifically to the gospel being preached later than P2 in the Messiah Reform-line, Luke 9:60; 16:16; 20:1. We may thus draw a Bible-based conclusion that Period 2 was a special time in which the Jews were to learn and accept Jesus’ gospel message.
E2: In the Exodus Journey Reform-line, the Sinai experience was as follows:
The children of Israel camp in the desert plain in front of Mount Sinai. In demonstration of His power and care, God came down and gave His Law (Exodus 20) and many judgments (chapters 21-23) to his people. They covenanted to obey. Exodus 24:7-8. Then a very special view of God was given. Verses 9-11. Next, Moses was called into the Mount to receive “tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.” Verse 12. Coming down from the mountain-top experience, Moses encounters all-out faithlessness. He finds the Israelites naked, whoring after a golden calf. The leadership (Aaron) is primarily responsible for this sin. Exodus 32:1-5, 21, 25. Then God especially confirms that He knows Moses by name. Exodus 33:12, 17. Finally, a very special view of God, a pronouncement of His name, and the two tables of stone are given to Moses on top of the mount. Exodus 34:2-8, 28.
A parallel narrative describes events transpiring around the beginning of Jesus’ third year of ministry. This narrative is found in Matthew 14:13 – 17:8; Mark 6:32 – 9:8; Luke 9:10 – 36; John 6.
Jesus is met by a great multitude out in a “desert place.” He begins to teach them and heal their sick. In demonstration of His power and care, He miraculously feeds them. Then He sends the disciple’s away and disperses the multitude; “His manner is so decisive that they dare not disobey.” The Desire of Ages, 378. Then a very special view of God is given – Jesus, walking on the water (Matthew 14:26-27; Mark 6:49-50; John 6:19-20); also, Jesus, the bread which came down from heaven (John 6:30-65). The next event having to do with “the multitude” was Jesus healing and feeding the four thousand on a mountain near the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 15:29-38, Mark 8:1-9). When He and His disciples depart from this experience on the mountain, they encounter the hypocritical religious leaders and their faithless request for a sign. Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11. Jesus calls the faithless of his day “a wicked and adulterous generation.” Matthew 16:3. Then Jesus gives Peter a special blessing and declares Peter’s name – “Blessed art though, Simon Barjona…thou art Peter.” Matthew 16:17-18. Finally, a very special view of Jesus in his primeval glory, a pronouncement of the relationship between Jesus and the Father, and a view of Moses and Elijah are given to the Savior’s three closest disciples on the mount of the transfiguration. Matthew 17:1-5; Mark 9:2-7; Luke 9:28-35.
The main, bookending events of the Sinai experience were, first, the divine pronouncement of the Law, and last, the divine pronouncement of God’s name and Moses’ receipt of the two tables of stone. It is therefore reasonable that Luke 9:10-36 highlights the corresponding bookending events of the narrative just given in his simplified version of the story. For ease of reference, we will call the narrative “Transfiguration & context.” The precise intricacy of the parallel between the Sinai experience and the Transfiguration & context provides us with powerful evidence that the paramount literal demonstration (sign) of the Lord’s special message of judgment and salvation in the Messiah Reform-line was the transfiguration of Christ.
P3: This period extends from the transfiguration to the death of Christ. Prior to this period, Jesus was not only the primary message-giver, He was also the paramount human exemplar of salvation-knowledge obtained by faith in the gospel. Thus we expect him, most specifically in Period 3, to give the quintessential expression of faith. Indeed, He did so by repeatedly declaring “I am.” As a human, His knowledge of His own identity as the I AM had been accepted by faith. Jesus’ verbal “I am” statements, which would have been blasphemy on any other lips, were some of, if not the most powerful expressions of His faith in the whole of his public ministry. Nearly all these statements were made in Period 3. The following list of examples is not exhaustive. To give the full significance of each statement, I have put “I am” in all caps.
“I AM the light of the world.” John 8:12.
“When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I AM.” John 8:28.
“I AM the door of the sheep.” John 10:7.
“I AM the good shepherd.” John 10:11, 14.
“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for I AM.” John 13:13.
“Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I AM.” John 13:19.
“I AM the true vine.” John 15:1.
“As soon then as he had said unto them, I AM, they went backward, and fell to the ground.” John 18:6.
E3: Just a few days before his crucifixion, Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” John 12:31-33. When Jesus successfully paid the sin-debt for every soul, probation closed on the kingdom of darkness. Divinity’s ultimate victory over Satan was made sure when Jesus cried, “It is finished” and lay down his life. Read Faith and Works, 73.4 and The Great Controversy, 503.3.
P4: Resurrection Sunday morning, Jesus told Mary, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” John 20:17. “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week,” Jesus invited his disciples, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me.” John 20:19; Luke 24:39. Thus we know that on the day of his resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven to hear in person the Father’s judgment that his mission had been successful. “From God Himself [He] heard the assurance that His atonement for the sins of men had been ample, that through His blood all might gain eternal life.” The Desire of Ages, 790.3. Jesus remained on earth with his disciples for forty days. Acts 1:3. This time they spent judging Jesus’ life and ministry in light of Old Testament prophecies. See Luke 24:27, 45, and The Acts of the Apostles, 26.2.
P1: This period extends from the death of Christ to his meeting with the disciples in the upper room on Sunday evening. Resurrection-Sunday morning, Jesus told Mary, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” John 20:17. “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week,” Jesus invited his disciples, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me.” John 20:19; Luke 24:39. Thus we know that sometime between the morning and the evening of that Sunday, Jesus ascended to heaven to hear in person the Father’s judgment that Christ’s mission had been successful. “From God Himself [He] heard the assurance that His atonement for the sins of men had been ample, that through His blood all might gain eternal life.” The Desire of Ages, 790.3. Coming back to earth, Jesus spent time explaining the verdict of Bible prophecy on His mission to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
E1: The passages which describe this event are Mark 16:14, Luke 24:36-49, and John 20:19-23. When Jesus came to his eleven disciples on resurrection-Sunday evening, He gave his first post-resurrection presentation of the gospel-commission message of judgment – “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” – and salvation – “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46-47.
P2: This period is the 49 days after resurrection-Sunday (until Pentecost). Read about it in Mark 16:15-18, John 21, Acts 1:3 – 2:1, The Desire of Ages chapters 85-87, and The Acts of the Apostles chapters 3-4. We note that the disciples spent time during this period learning and accepting Jesus’ views on Bible prophecy along with His statements concerning their future mission to Israel and the whole world. The short interval from the ascension to Pentecost was one of deep heart-searching, repentance, and prayer for the disciples; “They extended the hand of faith higher and higher.” The Desire of Ages, 833.1.
E2: This event is described in Acts 2:1-4. The God-given sign of the Spirit-breathed, great-commission message that Jesus brought from heaven on resurrection-Sunday evening was clearly the “sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” and the “tongues like as of fire.”
P3: This period is the time (about 3 years and 4 months) from the Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit until Stephen at his trial saw Jesus standing in heaven. It begins with the disciples giving empowered expression of their faith to the multitude which had come together the very day of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring. Acts 2:5-41. Period 3 ends with Stephen making the heart-cutting point, backed by Bible-history context, that the Jews had become the murderers of the Messiah. Acts 7:52. The period witnessed not just powerful preaching, but also “many wonders and signs…done by the apostles.” Acts 2:43. It saw the believers “obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.
E3: It is a well-established prophetic truth that the “Seventy weeks…determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city” of Daniel 9:24 ran out in 34 A.D. at the stoning of Stephen. God’s probationary period for the literal Israelites’ status as His special people closed at this time. After 34 A.D., God’s special people would be spiritual Israelites – Christians.
The Biblical description of the Jewish religious leaders’ reaction to Stephen’s last warning message shows that they were making their final, irrevocable decision to reject Christ. “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.” Acts 7:54. An exhaustive Bible study on teeth gnashing shows that only those who have been divinely rejected, having moved beyond the limits of God’s mercy, gnash their teeth.
Also, Stephen’s view of Jesus standing can be seen as a view of probation closing. It is well-known that when Michael stands (Daniel 12:1) at the very end of the work of salvation on this planet, probation will close on all those who still rebel against any part of divine law. Reflecting on the action taken against Stephen, Ellen White wrote, “Thus the Jewish people sealed their rejection of God’s mercy.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 308.3.
P4: Immediately following the stoning of Stephen, “there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem.” Acts 8:1. Periods of especial persecution against believers are always periods of judgment on God’s people. According to the prophetess, “In every religious crisis some fall under temptation. The shaking of God blows away multitudes like dry leaves. Prosperity multiplies a mass of professors. Adversity purges them out of the church.” Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 4, 89.2. Times of trial are times of judgment.
Also, as a direct result of the Jew’s rejection of the Messiah, Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Christ’s Object Lessons, 308.3.